Mother’s Day Around the World

Although many countries celebrate Mother’s Day in May, the holiday takes place throughout the year around the globe. From the second Sunday in February (Norway) to the last Sunday in November (Russia), it’s once again safe to say that, yes, #culturematters

We asked both friends and clients of Cultural Mixology about Mother’s Day traditions in their countries. Here’s a sampling of what they shared:

Japan 🇯🇵
Mother’s Day (母の日) takes place on the second Sunday in May, and while not an intrinsic part of Japanese culture, the holiday has been adopted in the country. Most people will send flowers to their mothers, especially red carnations, which symbolize familial love in Japan.

Mexico 🇲🇽
The mother is arguably the most revered figure in Mexican family and society. It’s therefore no surprise that Mother’s Day (Día de la Madre) in Mexico, which is always on May 10th, is a serious holiday. When it falls on a weekday, most mothers do not go to work. Employers often allow people to take the day off, or work a half day, in order to be able to go see their mothers, share a big meal, and bring flowers, cards, and gifts. Some may even hire mariachi bands to deliver a serenata early in the morning. 

Israel 🇮🇱
Mother’s Day (יוֹם הָאֵם) was changed to Family Day (יוֹם הַמִשְּפָּחָה) in the 1990s to reflect changing family norms, although many still call it Mother’s Day. It is celebrated on the Hebrew date of the death of Henrietta Szold (founder of Hadassah), Shevat 30, which typically falls in January – February.

Argentina 🇦🇷
Mother’s Day (Día de la Madre) falls on the third Sunday in October. Typically, families get together for an “asado”, a cultural tradition that is so much more than a “barbecue”. It’s a way of gathering (friends and family) and grilling (a variety of meats and accompaniments) that is at the heart of Argentine culture.

Thailand 🇹🇭
Mother’s Day (“Wan Mae” or วันแม่) is celebrated on August 12th, which is the Thai Queen Sirikit’s birthday. She is considered the “Mother” of the nation. People decorate their homes and businesses with the Queen’s portrait and the Thai flag. Celebrations range from royal processions to offerings made to monks to jasmine flowers (symbols of love and affection) presented by children to their mothers.

Italy 🇮🇹
Mother’s Day (Festa della Mamma) in Italy falls on the second Sunday in May. A more recent Italian tradition is purchasing azalea flowers for your mother. Since 1984, the Italian Association for Cancer Research (Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro, or AIRC) has set up booths in 3,700 town squares where you can purchase azaleas for a €15 contribution that helps the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer and cancer affecting reproductive organs.

United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Don’t call it Mother’s Day in the UK – it’s Mothering Sunday – and they are really not the same thing. It takes place on the fourth Sunday of Lent and its origins date back to the 1500s, marking the day that people would return to their “mother church” for a special service.

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