Happy Mother’s Day. Bonne Fête des Meres. Feliz Dia de las Madres. No matter how you say it, the sentiment is the same: We love you, Mom. Thank you. You are the center of our family and for that, we are grateful.
Mothers are celebrated across many countries in the world on various dates and in different ways. While the customs and traditions vary, the purpose remains the same – to honor moms for everything they do all year long.
So if you’re still wondering what to do this Mother’s Day, find inspiration from the many ways families honor moms around the world.
In the UK, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and is called Mothering Sunday. During medieval times, poor families often sent their children off to work as domestic servants or apprentices to rich families. Their rare day off was traditionally granted during the Lenten season, so they could worship the Virgin Mary and visit their home, “mother church” and their families. The children would often pick flowers to give to their mothers and bake special cakes called Mothering Cakes or Simnel Cakes (the holiday even used to be known as Refreshment Sunday because the strict Lent fasting rules were put aside for the holiday). Today, Mother’s Day in the UK is celebrated in the same way as it is in Canada, with flowers, cards, gifts and family meals.
In Brazil, Mother’s Day is one of the most commercial holidays celebrated, second only to 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.
Muttertag takes place on the second Sunday in May (unless it falls on Pentecost, in which case it occurs on the first Sunday of the month). In Germany, the giving of Mother’s Day cards is extremely popular. During WWII, Mother’s Day took on political significance as the day to acknowledge women for producing children for the Vaterland, or 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, with the giving of gifts, cards and flowers, as well as festive meals earmarking the day.
Here Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and is symbolized by beautiful carnations — which represent the gentle strength of mothers who are revered in Japanese culture. Like most other countries, Mother’s Day is a day of pampering for moms — kids 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.
Another country that 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 because mothers there are called Mum. Aunts and grandmothers are also acknowledged with gifts.
Also, lots of service events are held around the holiday, with many organizations holding events to help raise money for women’s causes.
The concept of a commercialized 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 is celebrated the second Sunday of May with gifts, chocolates and joyous family meals. In Peru, children often give their moms handmade items, which are reciprocated with gifts from them, in turn.
Peru’s indigenous Andean population, however, also celebrates the gifts of Mother Earth, or Pachamama, in early August. 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.
Fete des Meres takes place in late May or early June, based upon Pentecost. It didn’t become an official day of celebration until 1950, but was originally declared a holiday by Napoleon. On this day, like usually in the United States, moms relax, relying on their children to cater to their needs and do the chores. Gifts are given and sometimes short, original poems are recited. A large, celebratory meal ends this relaxing, enjoyable day.
Mother’s Day is celebrated at the end of the fall rainy season, as part of the three-day Antrosht festival, dedicated to moms. 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.
In culturally diverse India, a westernized 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.
The celebrations may vary, but the emotion and love that ties families together is the same the world over. Mother’s Day, no matter how or when it is celebrated, simply serves as a reminder of all moms do for their families every single day and the honour they deserve because of it.
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