While many countries have adopted Western Mother’s Day celebrations, others have put their own spin on the holiday and celebrate at very different times of year. Here are five ways Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world.
In Germany, Mother’s Day, or Muttertag, occurs on the second Sunday of May unless it falls on Pentecost, in which case the holiday is celebrated on the first Sunday of May. Though the celebration is now a warm, loving holiday with gifts, flowers and a celebratory meal, the holiday had a different connotation during World War II. During WWII, women were given medals, from bronze to gold, depending on how many children they had provided to a household.
Mother’s Day is actually the second-most commercially celebrated holiday in Brazil, falling just behind Christmas. Dia das Mães is quite popular and is often celebrated in multi-generational gatherings of family. The day is typically commemorated on the second Sunday of May with religious gatherings and performances by children. After the performances, families often come together to enjoy a large barbecue.
First declared by Napoleon, fete des meres was a celebration of mothers who had produced large families. The tradition, which happens on the last Sunday of May unless it is moved to the first Sunday of June due to Pentecost, was resurrected during World War I when mothers of four to five children were given medals, like in Germany during the Second World War. In 1950, the tradition was revised to be a more loving celebration of maternal bonds between both family and close family friends. French children usually perform chores for their mothers, give gifts and flowers and end the day with a relaxing meal enjoyed together.
Though post-Soviet Russia changed the Mother’s Day celebration to the last Sunday of November in 1998, many still celebrate the tradition on March 8, International Women’s Day. The March Mother’s Day was established as a day to both honor women as well as a day to consider and strive to reach gender equality. Though the official holiday is now in November, many still choose to present mothers and mother figures with gifts in March.
Though Mother’s Day is often thought of as a Western holiday and celebration, Thailand has one of the most interesting spins on the event. The Southeast Asian country observes Mother’s Day on August 12 to simultaneously celebrate the queen mother, Sirikit, who took the throne alongside her husband shortly after their marriage in 1950. The day is marked by celebratory ceremonies and parades. Jasmine is often the most popular gift to share on this day.