8 Unique Mother’s Day Traditions of 8 Different Countries Around The World

Estimated read time 6 min read

Happy Mother’s Day, or should we say, “Feliz Día de la Madre,” “母亲节快乐,” and “Bonne Fête des Mères”? Once a year, countries around the world spend a whole day dedicated to celebrating the most important women of our lives, who raised us, taught us, and loved us unconditionally. But did you know that Mother’s Day isn’t celebrated the same way in different countries? That’s right! Mother’s Day traditions vary widely across the globe, reflecting the diverse cultures that honor motherhood in their unique ways.

So, sit up and join us on a heartwarming journey around the world as we explore the fascinating and diverse traditions of Mother’s Day. You’re in for a treat – perhaps you’ll even find new traditions to incorporate into your celebration!

Japan: Carnation Flowers

On Mother’s Day in Japan, you’ll see carnation flowers presented everywhere. Back in the days when World War II just ended, a version of Mother’s Day grew popular in the Rising Sun country, as a way to comfort mothers who had lost sons to the war. Carnation flower symbolizes familial love, the virtues and endurance of motherhood in Japanese culture. Originally, children gave a red carnation to a living mother and displayed white ones to their late mothers. Nowadays, white carnations have become traditional but pink ones are the most popular.

Pink carnations are the most popular flower on Japanese Mother's Day
Pink carnations are the most popular flower on Japanese Mother's Day

Brazil: Mousse de Maracujá

Mother’s Day – Dia das Mães – is a very important holiday in Brazil, coming second to Christmas. It’s often a multi-generational celebration including grandmas and aunts. On this day, children at school would make craft gifts for their mothers, sing special songs at church, then families of multi-generation would all gather for barbecues. After the meal, Mother’s Day desserts are a must. The signature dessert of this day is the sweet and pretty Mousse de Maracujá, aka Passionfruit Mousse, and it’s the classic way to finish the day.

Mousse de Maracujá is a traditional dessert on Mother's Day in Brazil
Mousse de Maracujá is a traditional dessert on Mother's Day in Brazil

Ethiopia: Sing Along!

The Mother’s Day of Ethiopia is called the Antrosht festival, occurs at the end of the rainy season in early fall, and is dedicated to moms. After the rainy weather ends, all family members flock to their homes for a huge celebration with food, drinking and singing. Traditionally, daughters bring vegetables and cheese, while sons bring meat. Together, they prepare a meat hash and sing and perform dances that tell stories of family heroes.

Mother's Day is celebrated differently in Ethiopia
Mother's Day is celebrated differently in Ethiopia

India: 10-Day Festival

Every October in India, the Hindus would honor Durga – the goddess of mothers during a 10-day festival called Durga Puja. It is reported that the celebration dates back to the 16th century and is considered both a religious ceremony and a time for family reunions. One tale tells how Durga visited her parents’ house to proudly present her children. In anticipation of the festival, families dedicate weeks to cooking, assembling gifts, and adorning their homes.

The Durga Puja festival in 2022
The Durga Puja festival in 2022

Italy: Chores-Free Day

In Italy, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. It is known as “La Festa della Mamma”. On this day, all mothers are encouraged to leave all the chores and cooking for their husbands and children. Not all, they are offered special homemade Mothers Day gifts and fresh pastries.

Though many women enjoy being in the kitchen nowadays, they're still encouraged to have a chores-free day on Mother's Day as a tradition
Though many women enjoy being in the kitchen nowadays, they're still encouraged to have a chores-free day on Mother's Day as a tradition

United Kingdom: A Church Custom

In the UK, Mothering Sunday pops up on the fourth Sunday during Lent (which is about 40 days before Easter). Way back in the 1700s, it was all about young house servants getting a day off to return home and unite with their moms. This whole thing started from the tradition of people used to go back to their hometown church for a visit. Nowadays, it’s still got a bit of a religious vibe, with lots of churches giving out daffodils for kids to give to their mothers. It’s traditional for girls to whip up a fruitcake for their moms.

Visiting the hometown church after having moved is a tradition on Mothering Sunday in UK
Visiting the hometown church after having moved is a tradition on Mothering Sunday in UK

France: Medals For Mom

Back in 1920, the French government started handing out medals – Médaille de la Famille – to moms who gave birth to more babies in gratitude for helping boost the population after World War I that took so many lives. After World War II, they decided the last Sunday in May would be Mother’s Day in France. Nowadays, the go-to gift is a cake that’s shaped like a flower.

Images of the Médaille de la Famille
Images of the Médaille de la Famille
Cakes with flower decoration is a popular gift on Mother's Day in France
Cakes with flower decoration is a popular gift on Mother's Day in France

US: Small Surprises

Mother’s Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1914. On this day, children would cook breakfast for their moms, buy them flowers and shower them with small surprises. Kids in the US prefer traditional yet thoughtful Mothers day gifts like cards, flowers and candy. In fact, each year Americans send over 133 million cards to their mothers just for Mother’s Day alone! Many would break their mothers off from her daily chores, including meal prep, by taking her out to eat.

In the US, children surprise their moms with small favors and small gifts on Mother's Day
In the US, children surprise their moms with small favors and small gifts on Mother's Day

Conclusion

While the traditions of Mother’s Day may vary in different countries, the meaning remains the same: a deep, universal appreciation for mothers and all they do. Perhaps after this article, you’d get inspired to adopt a new tradition from another country or simply gain a deeper appreciation for your own. Let’s take this new knowledge as an inspiration to make your own Mother’s Day even more special for your mom. Here’s to mothers around the world – may they always feel cherished, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day.

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