Articles & Guides
What can we help you find?

10 Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World

Get ideas for celebrating mums by reading about other cultures and their Mother's Day traditions.

10 Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World

Happy Mother’s Day! Feliz Dia de las Madres! Furaha Ya Mama Siku!

It doesn’t matter how you say it, the sentiment is the same: Happy Mother’s Day, Mum. We love you. Thank you. You are the centre of our family and for that, we are grateful.

Here in the UK, Mothering Sunday (commercially Mother’s Day) is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This tradition started back in the 16th century when poor children were given a day off work to go home and honour the Virgin Mary at their “mother church”. The children would often pick flowers to give to their mothers and bake special cakes called Mothering Cakes or Simnel Cakes.

Today we celebrate by giving our mothers presents and cards and then by celebrating the women in our lives with the wider family — normally over a big meal.

If you’re wondering how to celebrate, and are struggling with Mother’s Day ideas, why not find inspiration from the many ways families honour mothers around the world? Here are fun Mother’s Day traditions in 10 other countries:

1. USA

The USA is where the modern Mother’s Day as we know it started. Although many forms of Mother’s day existed before – typically with religious roots – Mother’s day is now considered a secular day of celebration, during which mother’s are showered with gifts and cards. The day was first conceived at the beginning of the 20th century when a woman called Ann Reeves Jarvis’s mother died. She wanted to have a national day for people to honour the sacrifices mothers make for their children.

2. France

Fête des mères takes place on the last Sunday of May, but is moved to the first Sunday of June if Pentecost falls then. The day of celebration was first declared by Napoleon, who wanted to reward mothers of large families. This tradition was revitalised during the First World War, when mothers of four or five children were given medals.

The modern fête des mères was officially founded in 1950. French children will traditionally do chores for their mums, and give them gifts, such as handwritten poems, flowers and cakes. A large, celebratory meal ends this relaxing, enjoyable day.

3. India

In culturally diverse India, a westernised version of Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, when Indians reflect upon the importance of mothers in their lives and the sacrifices they have made.

However, Hindus in India celebrate the goddess Durga, or Divine Mother, during a 10-day festival called Durga Puja in October. Durga Puja celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is earmarked by gifts given to friends and family, as well as feasts and celebrations.

4. Germany

Muttertag takes place on the second Sunday in May but, like France, is moved (though to the first Sunday of May) if it falls on Pentecost. During the Second World War, Mother’s Day traditions took on political significance: it was the day to acknowledge women for producing children for the Vaterland (Fatherland). Medals were awarded in gold, silver or bronze, based upon how many children were in the household.

After the war, it assumed a softer feel. The giving of Mother’s Day cards, gifts and flowers is extremely popular, and festive meals typically earmark the day.

5. Brazil

Dia das Mães is incredibly popular in Brazil – in fact it is the second most commercial holiday celebrated (the first being Christmas).

Brazil commemorates this special day on the second Sunday in May with special children’s performances and church gatherings, which often culminate in large, multi-generational barbecues, she adds.

6. Australia

Another country which relies heavily on the giving of carnations and other flowers is Australia, where Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Chrysanthemums are also a very popular floral choice, originally due to a marketing gimmick playing on the fact they end with ‘mum’. Aunts and grandmothers are also acknowledged with gifts.

In Australia, lots of service events are held around the holiday, with many organisations holding events to help raise money for women’s causes

7. Ethiopia

Here, Mother’s Day is celebrated at the end of the rainy season, as part of the three-day Antrosht festival, dedicated to mums. When the weather clears up and the skies empty of rain, family members come home to celebrate with a large feast. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables, butter, spices and cheese, while the sons bring meat of various types, including lamb or bull. These will be included in a traditional hash recipe. Singing and dancing is shared by all family members

8. Japan

In Japan Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and is symbolised by beautiful carnations — which represent the gentle strength of mothers who are revered in Japanese culture.

Children draw pictures of their mothers in school and sometimes enter them in art competitions. Like most other countries, Mother’s Day is a day of pampering for mums — children help take over the household chores, have a special family meal, like sushi or eggs, and give their mothers red carnations or roses and cards.

9. Peru

The concept of a commercialised Mother’s Day is a Western evolution, but many cultures worldwide do things to celebrate their mothers in small and large ways from rituals to special treatments at special times, including pregnancy or childbirth.

Peru is no exception to this rule, where Mother’s Day celebrations are held on the second Sunday of May and are complete with gifts, chocolates and joyous family meals. In Peru, children often give their mums handmade items, which are reciprocated (lucky them!).

Peru’s indigenous Andean population, however, also celebrates the gifts of Mother Earth, or Pachamama, in early August, says Hopgood. Pachamama is an ancient mythological goddess beloved by many indigenous Andean populations. Mythology cites Pachamama as the cause of earthquakes and bringer of fertility. Her special worship day is called Martes de Challa.

10. Serbia

Another country which needs three days to fully acknowledge their mothers and the spirit of family is Serbia, where Mother’s Day takes place in December and is part of a series of national holidays including Children’s Day and Father’s Day. All three holidays take place on consecutive Sundays and require lots of rope!

On Children’s Day, children are tied up and must agree to behave before they are unbound. On Mother’s Day, it is the mum’s turn to be tied up, where she will remain until she supplies yummy treats and small gifts to her children. Finally it is father’s turn. The dads are tied up with rope until they give their families Christmas gifts. At that point, everybody feasts.

The mother’s day traditions may vary, but the emotion and love that ties families together is the same the world over. No matter how or when it is celebrated, it simply serves as a reminder of all mums do for their families every single day and the honour they deserve because of it.

Read Next: We Are Family: Diverse and Colourful as Life Itself 

Read Next: A Parent’s Guide to Flexible Working 

Read Next: 6 Signs Mothers Want to Get Back to Work After Parental Leave