Mother’s Day traditions around the world

Mother's Day traditions around the world

Mother’s Day in America is celebrated every year on the second Sunday of May. This year, Mother’s Day USA celebrations occur on May 14, 2017.


As we’ll still be in Korea, I wondered if there were any differences between celebrations, and to my surprise, there are, which is why I thought as part of the kids homeschooling curriculum, we’d do some research into Mother’s Day traditions around the world!

The first question Leah asked me was

Mom, who created Mother’s Day?

Our research led us to a History channel article all about Mother’s Day and its origins. Did you know that celebrating mothers goes far back, to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, where the people had festivals honoring the goddesses of motherhood, Rhea and Cybele?

Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World

Mother's Day traditions around the worldMother’s Day in Korea

Mother's Day traditions around the world
We’ll start off with Korean traditions since that’s where we currently are. Mother’s Day in Korea is celebrated earlier than in the US – annually on May 8th. In fact, it’s not even called Mother’s Day, but Parents’ Day where both father and mother are celebrated. A common tradition is children giving red carnations and roses to their parents, a symbol of honoring their life. We’ve even heard a current popular Parents’ Day gift from older children is the gift of plastic surgery, so their parents can stay young!

Mother’s Day in the USA

Mother's Day traditions around the worldThe Mother’s Day that we’ve now come to celebrate can be traced back all the way to the 1900’s to American Civil War peace activist, Anna Jarvis. After her mother’s death, she started Mother’s Day as a day to honor the sacrifices mother’s had made for their children. Through her persistence in promoting the day, in 1914, then President Woodrow Wilson signed off on a measure that the second Sunday of May would be known as Mother’s Day. Today Mother’s Day is the most celebrated holiday after Christmas and Valentine’s Day – in our family I’m usually treated to breakfast in bed, the kids bake me desserts and I’m showered with cards and flowers, and don’t have to do any housework. We also make it a point to take grandma out for a day of rest and relaxation!

Mother’s Day in the UK

Mother's Day traditions around the worldThanks to the efforts of Jarvis’ campaigning in America, the British noticed and requested for a day for Mother’s to be officially accepted in England. Known as Mothering Sunday, it’s not on the second Sunday of May like in the USA, but is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which changes yearly but is around the end of March/beginning of April. Just as in Korea and the USA, mother’s are given flowers and are celebrated for all the work they do in raising their children.

Mother’s Day in the UAE

Mother's Day traditions around the worldBecause of the diverse expat population in the United Arab Emirates, mother’s in the UAE have it best – they get to celebrate this special day multiple times a year: the UK, USA, and UAE dates! Mother’s Day in the UAE falls on the same day every year, March 21 and families celebrate either at home or take advantage of the various deals that restaurants, hotels & spas, and stores offer.

Mother’s Day in France

Mother's Day traditions around the world Known as Fête de Mères, Mother’s Day in France occurs in late May/early June and is based upon the Christian celebration of Pentecost that occurs 50 days after Easter. The celebration took root in the late 1900’s when the low birth rate in France was of concern – as a result they started to celebrate mother’s with large families. Today, it’s a day where mother’s with small and large families are celebrated and usually a large meal is prepared where the entire family celebrates.

Mother’s Day in Peru

Mother's Day traditions around the worldIn addition to celebrating Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May like the Americans do, the indigenous population in the Andes also pays homage to Mother Earth, known as Pachamama, every year in August. Pachamama is an ancient goddess related to fertility, and abundance which is why a lot of Andean farmers pay homage to her every year during her day of worship known as Martes de Challa. On this day homes are decorated and an offering of sweets, fruit and nuts is prepared to Pachamama. People gather around the offering as it is ceremoniously burnt, making wishes for the upcoming year.

We’d love to hear about how you celebrate Mother’s Day in your country? Any unique traditions and customs? Let us know in the comments below!

1 Comment

  • Mothers day is celebrated in style here in Nigeria as we children take care of our mother throughout the day like she is supposed to. It is always a great day!

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