Mother’s Day traditions around the world

When American social activist Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day" in 1912 to honour her own mum who died on May 9, the ripple effects would be felt around the world.

Soon more than 50 countries, including Australia, adopted this holiday and some even changed the date of existing celebrations, such as Mothering Sunday in the UK, to fall on the same day.

While Mother’s Day is a fairly modern tradition, some countries have been celebrating motherhood for centuries. Here’s how motherhood is celebrated in other cultures.

Durga Puja Festival – India
The Durga Puja Festival is an Indian celebration dating back to the 12th century honouring the mother goddess. At its core, the festival celebrates good over evil and the triumph of the mother goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon, Mahishasura.

These days the festival, which runs across September or October, is a community and family affair as people come together to celebrate through food, song and dance. One of the biggest celebrations of the Durga Puja is in West Bengal where it is a five-day annual holiday.


Image source: Durga Purja

Mothering Sunday – the United Kingdom
Mothering Sunday is celebrated in the UK on the fourth Sunday of Lent in the Christian calendar. In the early 20th century, Mothering Sunday was changed to the same date as American Mother’s Day. It has since retained its traditional name and date.

Many historians believe the tradition started in the 16th century when children, who were working as domestic servants away from their families, were allocated a day off to return to their home and worship at the main ‘mother’ church. It is thought that along the way, the children would collect wild flowers and gift these to their mothers or to take to church.

Nowadays, it’s common for children to give their mothers presents, flowers and cards or even a Simnel cake.

Here is a recipe so you can make your own Simnel cake.


Queen’s Birthday – Thailand
In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated on August 12 to commemorate the birthday of Queen Sirikit, who is considered the mother of all Thai people. The day is also a national holiday.

In August, people decorate their homes and businesses with lights, decorations and portraits of the queen. On the morning of her birthday, there is usually an alms-giving ceremony followed by a candle-lighting and fireworks display.

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Image source: Chiang Mai Best

Pachamama – Peru
Most Peruvians celebrate Mother’s Day much like Australians – with gifts and flowers on the second Sunday of May. However, many indigenous Peruvians also acknowledge Mother Earth or Pachamama, who is the goddess of fertility and land.

To honour Pachamama, families perform rituals such as cooking special foods, offering cocoa leaves and cigars, and drinking mate – a South American hot beverage – to bring good luck.

The Pachamama festival, held during the month of August, coincides with the Andean New Year, which marks the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice and the start of a new agricultural cycle.

Image source: dreamers1

Materici – former Yugoslavia
In the former Yugoslav, people took part in a series of activities across three days in December known as Dietinici, Materici and Oci. On Dietinici, or Children’s Day, children are playfully tied up and not released until they promise to behave. On Materici, or Mother’s Day, it’s the mothers’ turn to be tied up until she hands over treats and gifts to her children. And finally, the following Sunday is Oci, or Father’s Day, and well, you can probably guess what happens there.

Mothers Day

Image source: Three books a night

Join our discussion below: What’s the best thing about being a mum? What’s the best present you received from your children on Mother’s Day?

See who is in the running for Barnardos Mother of the Year Award 2015.

Main image source: Ensine