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Mother's Day Traditions Around the World

Across the world, Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the mothers in our lives. It’s a time to express gratitude and appreciation for a mother’s hard work in and outside of the family. We’re all prone to taking our mothers for granted and this day gives us a chance to show her how much she means to us!

Mother’s Day has long been celebrated and can be dated back to the Greeks and Romans. In recent history, the Western view of Mother’s Day is associated with the way the United States celebrates – with cards, gifts and flowers. However, across the world, different countries celebrate on different days and have their own traditions.

United States of America

Traditionally, Mother’s Day in the United States is on the second Sunday of May and includes attending church for religious patrons. With commercialization, Mother’s Day has become a day to shower and pamper mothers with gifts and nice gestures.

Gifting Mother’s Day cards and flowers, especially carnations, is a common tradition! Red and pink carnations are given to living mothers, while white is for those who have passed on.

It is also common for children to make handmade gifts at school to present to their mothers while fathers adorn mothers with beautiful jewelry. Mornings usually start with breakfast in bed and end with dinner at a restaurant. Families don’t want their moms to cook on a day that is all about them!



Being so close to the United States, it’s no wonder Mexico has adopted the celebrations of Mother’s Day! Just 14 years after America, Mexico embraced Mother’s Day as an official holiday on May 10th 1922.

Although the United States always celebrated Mother’s Day on a Sunday, in Mexico it’s always on May 10th. In addition to gifts, cards and flowers, children honor their mothers by singing songs or perform small plays. It’s not uncommon to hear “Las Mananitas” sung and accompanied by mariachi bands throughout the streets.

Mother’s Day is also a day to give mother’s rest from cooking and cleaning and the family heads out to eat. In 2012, the Washington Post reported that May 10th is the busiest day for Mexican restaurants in the entire year!


Slavic Europe and Russian

As part of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine and many of Slavic European countries celebrate Mother’s Day as part of International Women’s Day on March 8th.

International Women’s Day started off as a political movement to bring about more rights for women. In 1917, women in Russia marched in protest of the Czar and in favor of voting rights. These rights were granted and from then on, this became a highly-celebrated holiday in the Soviet Block.

Traditionally, all females (girls and women alike) are celebrated and given a bouquet of flowers on this day. Boys and men of all ages celebrate the women in their lives. It’s tradition to give flowers on this day especially red carnations, yellow mimosas or tulips.

Like the tradition in Mexico, it’s also custom to sing songs or recite poems honoring moms. Many schools even put on small shows honoring the women and mothers in their lives.



India is renowned for major festivals of all kind. Although celebrating mothers is not a new concept within India, the commercialized Mother’s Day is relatively new. In India, goddess mothers have been celebrated for thousands of years, but celebrating your own mother on one single day is novel.

The holiday is usually celebrated on the second Sunday of May and has a similar connotation to that of celebrations in the United States. Most people who celebrate in India are those who live in big cities, while Mother’s Day celebrations are not prevalent in rural communities. However, the holiday is on the rise as many believe that mothers take great sacrifice for their children and command respect and appreciation!

It’s custom to give flowers and greeting cards and, like many other countries, giving the mothers a day off is also in practice. Instead of going out to restaurants though, families will usually take over household cooking for the day and cook their mother’s favorite dish.  



Although most Mother’s Day celebrations around the world are usually held for one day, Mother’s Day in Ethiopia spans three whole days. This time, called Antrosht, is not only about motherhood, but also symbolizes the end of the rainy season.

Families come together with their friends to celebrate with a feast! For the meal, families cook a traditional dish called “hash”. In preparation, the children gather ingredients for the meal - girls oversee sourcing of dairy, vegetables and seasonings while boys usually get the meat.

After the meal, celebrations continue in the form of singing and dancing!



Mother’s Day in Lebanon is celebrated on March 21st rather than on the second Sunday of May. In addition to celebrating your own mother, in Lebanon, children celebrate all the mothers in their life. This includes anyone who has children such as older sisters, grandmothers and aunts.

It’s not uncommon for families to pool their money together to get an expensive gift for the mother in their lives – such as a trip or a useful tool like a washing machine! This shows the appreciation for the hard work mothers put day in and day out.

Unlike the USA, there is not as much emphasis on gifting cards. Most times, a visit or at least a phone call is expected if you are not in the area. It’s seen as a more thoughtful and personal gesture than sending a letter in the mail. When there is a personal visit, it  also usually involves cake


Article written by Vita Zakhu, find more of her work at www.vitasocialmedia.com