Mother's Day traditions around the world

"The love of a true mother comes nearer to being like the love of God than any other kind of love" - Joseph F. Smith.

To say that mothers do a lot would be an understatement. I mean, really who else would care about your well-being throughout your life, even into adulthood, more than your mom?

Mother's day is an annual event in many countries, but is often celebrated on different dates, depending on the country. Here in South Africa it is recognised on the second Sunday in May.

We know that motherhood does not only apply to women who birth children. The nurturing act of a maternal figure goes far beyond birthing, and aunties, sisters and grandmothers are also celebrated for the motherly role they play.

To celebrate motherhood, we put together a list of Mother's Day traditions from around the world. We hope this list inspires you to go all out this Sunday! 


Also see: WATCH: Kids tell us where they would take Mom ahead of Mother’s Day

Do you have any special traditions in your family to honour your mother figures? Tell us about your family's Mother's Day traditions and we could publish your story. Anonymous contributions are welcome.


Brazil

Mother's day is kind of a big deal in this football-loving country. In fact, it is marked as the second most commercial holiday after Christmas. It was initially promoted by the Young Men's Christian Association of Porto Alegre in 1918.

When celebrating Feliz dia das maes, Brazilians base the celebration on their religious roots. Parents gather in churches to watch special children's performances dedicated to all the mothers. For some, the 2nd Sunday of May means they host large multi-generational braais. 

There is also a tradition for kids to make cards for their moms as a way to show their appreciation.

Ethiopia

In Ethiopia motherhood is celebrated with relish.

Mother's Day is celebrated at the end of the rainy season and it takes place over a three-day Antrosht Festival dedicated to mothers. After the festival families gather for a large family feast. Traditionally, daughters would bring vegetables, butter, spices and cheese and sons would bring different kinds of meat. 

The mother cooks the family feast and this is followed by singing and dancing.

As per the ritual, mothers and daughters rub each other's faces with butter, while the males of the family dance. 

Serbia

Much like Somalia, Materice is celebrated over three consecutive Sundays as part of a series of national holidays. Mother's Day in Serbia involves the kids tying their mother up. Yes, you read that correctly. On this day mom's are tied up with a ribbon or a string. They can only be untied when they give small gifts or sweet treats to the children.

The fun part though is that everyone gets to be tied. On the Sunday before Mother's Day it's Children's Day, and parents tie children until they agree to be on their best behavior. On the Sunday following Mother's Day it's Father's Day. The fathers are also tied up until they give out gifts to the family.

To Serbians the act of tying symbolises the connection of the past to the present. The two generations are tied as a symbolic act of connecting two generations to the love of God. After the tying they enjoy a large family feast.

France

Unlike Serbia and Ethiopia, Fete des meres is not a holiday but a day of observance to honour mother figures. The day falls on the last Sunday of May or in early June. It was first marked during the Napoleonic era to honour women of large families. Moms of four or five children were given a medal (that's a tradition we can get behind!). 

Today France celebrates the day by giving Medaille de la Famille to parents who have raised large families. The medal is also given to single parents who raise children when their spouses have passed on.

Usually, on this day the children do chores for their mothers and give them gifts, written poems, flowers or cakes.

Germany

Muttertag used to have political significance in Germany. Like France, it was developed in honour of women for producing children for the Fatherland.

Medals were won in gold, silver and bronze based on the number of children in a household. Cards are a popular gift followed by large family feasts.


Also see:  WATCH: Quill a gift card for mom this Mother's Day


Mexico

Mother's Day is a pretty big deal in Mexico. It is celebrated on the 10th of May, and has been celebrated since 1992.

It starts in the morning with serenades of the songs "Las Mananitas" which is usually sung to honour a loved one on their birthday. This song has become widely used to honour mothers on El Dia de la Madre

The English translation goes like this:

These are little mornings

That King David used to sing

And on the day of your Saint

We sing them to you.

Wake up, my dear, wake up!

Look, it’s already dawning,

The little birds are already singing

The moon has gone away.

Later, they have dinner in restaurants filled with families celebrating their mothers.


WATCH: Kids reveal what they love about their moms ahead of this Mothers’ Day


Thailand

Mother's Day in Thailand falls on 12 August and is symbolic of the birth of Queen Sirikit. Her Majesty is regarded as the Mother of the Nation, and her birth is celebrated through extravagant ceremonies and parades.

It is also common for mothers to attend school performances. Children kneel at their mother's feet to pay respect for all that she does for them. The Jasmine flower is widely used because it symbolises purity, gentleness, and motherhood.

Italy

For Italians this is simply a day for families to come together to enjoy each other's company, and to thank the person who made it possible. Usually it is kept very small.

This is because it is not an official holiday, but families try to make it special. The day usually starts with the kids helping with housework, followed by gift giving.

After feasting, a popular dessert is a heart-shaped cake, usually made with love by the children.

Chat back:

Do you have any special traditions in your family to honour your mother figures? Share your Mother's Day traditions and we could publish your story. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Read more: