Cue the chocolates, flowers, and fruity gift baskets. Americans are getting ready to show their moms how much they love them. While moms are celebrated throughout the world in many different ways, many countries do it on different days than the U.S. The U.S. celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May, which falls on May 10th this year. Regardless of when it happens, the spirit of the holiday is always the same: Show your mother (or the mother-figures) how much you appreciate them!
No matter where you are in the world, Mother’s Day is usually celebrated at the beginning of spring, and for good reason. Historically, older civilizations put much emphasis on honoring Mother Earth. Paying respects to the Earth during this symbolic time of renewal was believed to ensure bountiful food and harvests that would sustain them throughout the year.
Those early traditions evolved to be incorporated with cultures across the world. The ancient Greeks had a cult dedicated to Cybele (the Anatolian Mother Goddess) who was commemorated at the vernal equinox, the Roman’s had the festival of Hilaria (also honoring Cybele at the vernal equinox), and even early Christians had Mothering Sunday, originally a celebration of the mother church (though not motherhood, per se). In modern times in many countries, though, this holiday was extended to honor our own mothers in the same sort of spirit.
The French celebrate Mother’s Day on the last Sunday of May and it’s more of a family holiday commemorated with a simple family dinner and a beautiful cake that looks like a bouquet of flowers. In Mexico, Mother’s Day is a fixed date, the 10th of May, and is commemorated with many colorful celebrations including big church masses across the country. Mother’s Day in Spain is celebrated on December 8th and coincides with many other religious celebrations, including a special one honoring the Virgin Mary.
The origin of the Mother’s Day tradition in the U.S. is slightly different. In 1908, Anna Jarvis, a West Virginia homemaker, began a campaign to celebrate mothers on the second Sunday of May (the day she had a memorial for her own mother). Six years later the U.S. celebrated its first Mother’s Day and a billion dollar Hallmark industry was born.
Regardless of where you are in the world, though, and when you celebrate Mother’s Day, it is really a wonderful time to celebrate mothers, motherhood, and those maternal bonds that enrich our lives. Read on to find out more about how people celebrate this holiday around the world.
Mother’s Day in France is reserved for the last Sunday in May and it’s generally celebrated as a treasured family holiday with an intimate sit-down dinner featuring Mom as the guest of honor. Mothers are usually presented with a special flower bouquet cake (exactly what it sounds like, it’s a cake that looks like a bouquet of flowers).
Celebrating Mother's Day is a fairly new tradition in India but it has been fast gaining in popularity. The capital of New Delhi has, by far, the biggest celebration in the country. Companies launch ranges of special products aimed at the female market and restaurants tempt families in with various Mother’s Day specials.
Originally published on April 25, 2014.