Mother’s Day Around the World
Whatever may divide opinion around the world, it’s nice to know there’s one thing we can all agree on: that mums are great and must be celebrated.
From Mothering Sunday to ‘International Mother’s Day’ (or just ‘Mother’s Day’ if you’re in that country!), almost every country celebrates Mother’s Day in some form – but this custom doesn’t mean we all mark the same dates in our calendars.
There are at least six different dates for Mother’s Day across Europe alone, so if you want to celebrate your mum or mother figure in another country you’ll need to be on the ball!
With this rundown of some of the most common dates for Mother’s Day, and florists in 140 countries, we’re here to help you join this great tradition wherever your mum may be.
Those of you tuned into the Christian calendar may recognise this as the fourth Sunday of Lent, and this is no coincidence.
In the Middle Ages, Mothering Sunday was a day to return to the ‘mother church’ where you were baptised. This tradition inevitably became a family reunion for those who had moved away from their birthplace, and has evolved into the Mother’s Day celebration we know today.
It is also thought that this date has links to the Catholic Feast of Annunciation on 25 March, celebrating the Virgin Mary’s visit from the archangel Gabriel.
With these traditions underpinning Mothering Sunday, it’s no surprise that the fourth Sunday of Lent is a day to celebrate mums in the UK and Ireland for religious and secular people alike.
Anna Jarvis was a tireless campaigner for her vision of Mother’s Day, a nationally recognised holiday for everyone to celebrate their own mother (rather than a celebration of motherhood in general).
Part of this tradition is the giving of carnations to mums on Mother’s Day, a custom started by Jarvis herself at the first official Mother’s Day church service. By providing no less than 500 carnations at the service, she firmly established the carnation as the flower of Mother’s Day in the United States with many also wearing carnations as a symbol of their appreciation.
Since then, the floral options have expanded to include roses, blooming plants and mixed bouquets – basically anything your mum fancies.
Throughout the 20th century, many other countries adopted this day to celebrate mums. In fact, so many countries celebrate on this day that it has become known as International Mother’s Day.
These countries include Germany, Italy, Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and Canada - and in Belgium, while most of the country celebrates on this day, a group of people in the Antwerp area like to complicate things further and celebrate on 15 August instead. Whatever works for you, Antwerp!
Customs in Poland include the familiar gifts of flowers and sweets, and more specifically to Poland (and Germany), coffee and cake at a cafe is a popular treat for mums.
Poland is unique in celebrating Mother’s Day on 26 May each year, regardless of what day of the week it falls on. However, in 2024 Dzień Matki happens to fall on a Sunday, which means it shares the day with a few other countries...
The French holiday has its roots in concerns over the low birthrate in the country at the end of the 19th century. In 1906, a special award was created for mothers of large families, and for many years the holiday remained a celebration of mums with lots of children.
And in Sweden, the late-spring date is thought to have been chosen to allow people to go outside and pick flowers – sweet yet practical!
This system has been in use since 1919, when Dorothea Schjoldager and Karen Platou established the celebration in Bergen. This often puts Mother’s Day (known locally as morsdag) very close to Valentine’s Day, but it’s thought that February was chosen because Norway already had enough holidays in May – lucky Norway!
The well-established treats of flowers and sweets are popular in Norway, and schoolchildren are encouraged to make their own gifts and cards for the personal touch.
Like other Mother’s Day celebrations in May, this date has its roots in the Catholic tradition of dedicating the whole month to the Virgin Mary.
Both Spain and Portugal have a history of also celebrating Mother’s Day in December, to coincide with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Nowadays though, the May date is accepted as the day to shower love on our madres and mães.
Other Mother’s Day dates
One common date is 8 March, which you may recognise as International Women’s Day. Russia and other neighbouring countries use this date to celebrate mums and all women, all at once.
And in many Arab countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on 21 March. This dates back to 1956, when the day was first introduced by journalist Mustafa Amin in Egypt.
There can never be enough days to show our mums how much they mean to us – and looking at this list that’s just as well! Wherever your mum is in the world, make sure she's part of the big day and show her some love.