Mother’s Day in the United States is just around the corner, but how do other countries around the world celebrate the wonderful women in our lives each year?
“He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.”
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Mother’s Day is coming up fast in the United States. Every year, this national holiday is celebrated by sons, daughters, husbands and wives to express their love and appreciation for the women who brought life into this world. President Woodrow Wilson is recognized as the man who signed a proclamation in 1914 designating Mother’s Day as a national holiday in the United States. It is now held annually on the second Sunday in May. Some of the earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be dated back to Greek civilization in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. This year, Mother’s Day is celebrated on Sunday, May 12, 2019.
How is Mother’s Day Celebrated Around the World?
The United States isn’t the only country in the world to recognize this incredibly special day. More than 40 countries around the world designate at least one day to celebrate mothers. Many countries celebrate it on the second Sunday in May just as in the United States, including Canada, Australia, India, Japan, South Africa and many others.
Other countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland celebrate it on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Most Arab countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the vernal equinox on March 21. You can see a full list of all the countries around the world with their designated annual Mother’s Day dates here.
What you will find no matter where in the world you are, Mother’s Day traditions are usually celebrated the same way. Love is shared through gifts, cards, special meals and other means of expressing pure gratitude.
Mother’s Day in India
Dedicating an entire day to a person’s own mother, however, is something new to India. The Hindus in India have always celebrated the divine Mother Durga and the Great Mother-Kali Ma, also known as Divine Mother, during a festival called Durga Puja in October every year. This festival lasts for ten days as they celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
Mother’s Day was quickly adopted into their society because of the immense respect that Indians hold for their mothers. Early traditions in India are in place to strengthen the emotional bond between a mother and her child. It is also an important time to reflect on the pain and suffering a mother endures from the birth of her child until they become an adult. People express their gratitude through cards, gifts and cooking meals.
Mother’s Day in Australia
Australians love their Mums! While this day has become more commercialized, people in Australia still treat this day very seriously. On the second Sunday of every May, you will see people on the streets of Australia wearing carnations as a symbol of the hardships a mother goes through in raising her children. Many others give a gift of chrysanthemums as a popular choice in flowers because they call their mothers ‘Mum.’
In addition, Mothers, aunts and grandmothers are not expected to work on this day and are usually pampered with delicious breakfast in bed or a nice dinner out. There is also a large amount of service events that are held around the holiday. These are meant to help raise money for many women’s causes throughout the country, and the world.
Mother’s Day in Mexico
The first Mother’s Day in Mexico was celebrated on May 10, 1992 and is now celebrated on the same day every year. Because 81% of Mexico’s adult population is Catholic, the holiday has taken on many religious aspects with images of the Madonna and Child being displayed throughout the country.
While it is not a public holiday, it is still taken very seriously by many people. Mexicans are very closely attached to their families. Men and women well into their 40s still live with their parents. It is widely accepted unlike many westernized cultures.
A popular song, “Las Mananitas” is often sung by mariachi singers in honor of mothers everywhere.
“Despierta mi bien despierta
Mira que ya amaneció
Ya los pajarillos cantan
La luna ya se metió”
“Awaken, my dear, awaken
and see that the day has dawned
now the little birds are singing
and the moon has set.”
Mother’s Day in Egypt
The first official Mother’s Day in Egypt was celebrated in 1956 during the era of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Every year on March 21, Egypt celebrates Mother’s Day in correlation with the first day of spring. This unofficial holiday was said to have first begun through an opinion article written by Ali Amin, an Egyptian journalist. According to the story, Ali’s widowed mother came to his twin brother, Mostafa Amin, with a saddened heart. She had dedicated so much of her life to raising her children, only for them to grow up and leave her behind to live alone.
It was proposed that there should be a day to celebrate our mothers and treat them like queens. “Why don’t we encourage children on this day to treat their mothers like queens, so they don’t let them do any work and instead, perform the house chores on her behalf. But which day of the year should we call ‘Mother’s day’?” Amin wrote in the Al Akbar el-Youm newspaper.
Mother’s Day in Thailand
Thailand chose to celebrate Mother’s Day every year on August 12 to mark the birthday of Queen Sirikit. As the world’s longest reigning royal consort for more than 60 years, Her Majesty was well renowned for her extensive charity work and countless development projects throughout the country. Queen Sirkit is regarded as Mother of the Nation and is celebrated together with Mother’s Day through parades, ceremonies, and private family gatherings.
In the early morning on Mother’s Day in Thailand, ceremonies take place where people will offer food to Thailand’s Buddhist monks as a means of giving alms. Schools throughout the country will hold a special ceremony where children will spend weeks rehearsing special performances. Mothers will come to their school on this day and their child will kneel at his or her mother’s feet to pay respect for all she is done for them. However, most schools, government offices and businesses are closed on this day.
A traditional Mother’s Day gift in Thailand is jasmine, a white flower called “dok mali” in Thai. It is used in worship and symbolizes qualities of purity, gentleness and of course, motherhood.
Celebrating Your Mother Wherever You Are
Above all, no matter where you are in the world, it is always an important time around Mother’s Day to share with your own mother, mum, ahm, or madre. Celebrate them and let them know how much you care this year. Feliz día de la madre!
“Oh, you might be a single parent, you might be a teenage mom,
You might live in suburbia, or maybe you don’t have a job.
But the backbone of the future is in the fam’ly log.
If there is no hope in family, then there is no hope at all.”
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