In many countries and cultures, our love of our mothers crosses international borders. Depending on which part of the globe you call home, Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days and in different seasons. As Mother’s Day approaches, on May 9, 2021, for those in the U.S. and a few other countries, remember to share your appreciation; since the pandemic was hard on everyone, especially mothers. If you have grandmothers, aunts, and mums living abroad, consider these tips for honoring the global ladies in your life.
Australia celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. Australians express love and appreciation for mothers with flowers and cards raining down upon family matriarchs. The carnation is also symbolic in Australia, with a colored flower signifying a mother who’s alive and well, while a white flower pays respect to a mother who is missed. Australian mothers are pampered, appreciated, and usually enjoy the start of this day with breakfast in bed.
Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1923 in Czechoslovakia, on the initiative of Alice Masaryková, the daughter of the first Czechoslovak president. After World War II, communists replaced Mother’s Day with International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March. The former Czechoslovakia celebrated Women’s Day until the Velvet Revolution in 1989. After the split of the country in 1993, the Czech Republic began celebrating Mother’s Day again. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of May each year. Traditionally, children make handmade gifts or write poems for their mothers with the help of their teachers.
Colombian culture has a strong focus on family values. Mother’s Day, or El Día de la Madre, is a very important holiday celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Family quality time, appreciation, gratitude, and acts of service toward all moms are heavily encouraged. Breakfast in bed is a common occurrence in Colombian households on Mother’s Day. It is the day Dad, along with the kids, silently prepares breakfast while mom pretends to be asleep. Many families also host a late extended-family lunch to celebrate mothers, although, with the ongoing pandemic, some may keep the celebration within their cohort or add a virtual component.
Known as the Mors Dag, Mother’s Day is celebrated the Second Sunday in May. On this day, children often give their mothers or maternal figures flowers, cards, and Mors Dag cakes. They also spoil them with breakfast in bed. A commemorative plate for Mors Dag has been created annually since 1969 by the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Company, Bing & Grøndahl. Mors Dag was first celebrated in Denmark in 1929; originally, the intention was to collect money for war widows and mums who had lost a son during the war.
Mother’s Day in Hungary takes place on the first Sunday in May (this year, May 2, 2021). Hungarians first celebrated mothers on the first Sunday of May in 1925. The celebration was organized by the Hungarian Red Cross Youth. Three years later, the government made Mother’s Day a mandatory celebration in every educational institution. Many children make crafts and cards for their mothers. For the adults celebrating, the Lilac is the symbolic flower of Mother’s Day in Hungary, and many mothers are gifted beautiful bouquets.
Mother’s Day in Mexico is always celebrated on May 10th. Children write cards, deliver flowers, and give gifts to mothers. Whether it is a handmade work of art, a skit, or a store-bought gift, mothers are appreciated and loved. Children help with housework and even begin assisting mothers as early as the day before, on the 9th. Churches organize a special mass praising female figures in religious settings. Music, food, and social gatherings are traditional ways to honor Mexican mothers. Due to the pandemic, this year social gatherings may be smaller or virtual.
Polish Mother’s Day or Dzien Matki is celebrated annually on May 26 regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. Dzien Matki is said to have begun in 1923 in Kraków and grew in popularity during World War II and afterward. On this day, family members visit their mothers and grandmothers to give flowers, cakes, sweets, and laurki or handmade cards decorated with flowers. Families sing songs of gratitude and love with titles like Dziękuję Ci Mamo, which means “Thank you Mother.”
Spanish Mother’s Day takes place on the first Sunday in May (this year, May 2, 2021), although previously it was celebrated on December 8, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mothers are celebrated and tributes are paid to the Virgin Mary. Since both family and church are involved, many communities celebrate in both the home and the local church.
Switzerland adopted Mother’s Day in the 1930s in part due to the efforts of the flower industry’s local unions, Christians, and the U.S. Salvation Army. The Swiss celebrate on the second Sunday in May giving mothers Swiss chocolate, especially from some of their famous brands Lindt, Toblerone, Max Chocolatier, Sprüngli.
UK Mother’s Day celebrations occur on the fourth Sunday of Lent (March 14, 2021). With a long history of “Mothering Sunday,” going back to the 1600s, Mother’s Day has evolved over time. Traditionally, Christians fast through Lent; however, on Mothering Sunday, celebration and enjoyment of cake are allowed by the church. Today’s festivities include decadent almond cakes known as “Mothering Cake” or “Simnel Cake.” Taking a trip to visit mom, and acknowledging other important women with cards, flowers, cakes, gifts, and spa or vacation experiences (some postponed pending the pandemic) is the United Kingdom tradition.
The history of this holiday in the U.S. began in the early 20th century with daughter Anna Jarvis, looking to honor her mother. Anna noticed parents were often unappreciated by their children. After the death of her mother, Anna set out to make a national day to recognize mothers. Through her hard work, campaigns, and enthusiastic supporters, Anna’s efforts lead to the establishment of a national Mother’s Day. The Mother’s Day shrine is located in Grafton, West Virginia.
Mother’s Day in the U.S. is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May and is characterized by giving cards, flowers, gifts, and brunch to show appreciation. Other women who have provided inspiration and leadership are also acknowledged on this day, including grandmothers, aunts, stepmothers, friends, and mentors. White carnations are a popular flower to give because they were Anna Jarvis’ mother’s favorite flower.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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