“Mother carries the child in her womb for nine months and
in her heart for the rest of her life.”

cupcakeThe modern Mother’s Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in May, though also in March, as a day to honor mothers and motherhood.

In South Africa, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May every year. The day coincides with the Mother’s Day celebrations in the United States. The second Sunday of May holds an important place in the life of South Africans. They celebrate it with great enthusiasm and interests. They regard Mother’s Day as an auspicious day, which gives every human being an opportunity to say thanks to his mother and appreciate all her efforts she has undertaken for him. South Africans make the most of the opportunity and leave no stone unturned to express gratitude towards their mother.

Carnations are the traditional flowers used on Mother’s Day. Apart from presenting their mom flowers, the people of South Africa also wear them to celebrate the day. The flower holds a special meaning on this day. While wearing red and pink carnations mean that a person’s mother is still living, the white ones are worn in honor of a deceased mother. On this particular day, children in South Africa pamper their mother and give her a special treatment. She is exempted from the daily chores, which are taken over by the children.

On Mother’s Day in South Africa, a child and a mother switch their roles. The child becomes a caretaker of the mother and gives her a treat. On the other hand, the mother sits back and relaxes, watching her favorite DVD, letting the child takes over the kitchen. From the bed tea in the morning to the dessert at night, they do everything for their mother. Some of them take their mother out for dinner or picnic as well. South Africans also present their mother with gifts, which range from homemade ones to the expensive ones.

It is believed that this day emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece, which kept a festival to Cybele, a great mother of Greek gods. This festival was held around the Vernal Equinox around Asia Minor and eventually in Rome itself from the Ides of March (15 March) to 18 March.

The ancient Romans also had another holiday, Matronalia, that was dedicated to Juno, though mothers were usually given gifts on this day.

In Europe there were several long standing traditions where a specific Sunday was set aside to honor motherhood and mothers such as Mothering Sunday. Mothering Sunday celebrations are part of the liturgical calendar in several Christian denominations, including Anglicans, and in the Catholic calendar is marked as Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent to honour the Virgin Mary and your “mother” church (the main church of the area). Historians think that children who served in houses were given a day off on that date so they could visit their families. The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place them on the church or to give them to their mothers.

International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in 28 February 1909, in the US. By that time Anna Jarvis had already begun her national campaign in the US, so it wouldn’t be an antecedent but a contemporanian. It is now celebrated in many countries on March 8.

The “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe was one of the early calls to celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States. Written in 1870, Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.

International history and traditions

In most countries, Mother’s Day is a recent observance derived from the holiday as it has evolved in North America and Europe. When it was adopted by other countries and cultures, it was given different meanings, associated to different events (religious, historical or legendary), and celebrated in a different date or dates.

Some countries already had existing celebrations honoring motherhood, and their celebrations have adopted several external characteristics from the US holiday, like giving carnations and other presents to your own mother.

The extent of the celebrations varies greatly. In some countries, it is potentially offensive to one’s mother not to mark Mother’s Day. In others, it is a little-known festival celebrated mainly by immigrants, or covered by the media as a taste of foreign culture (compare the celebrations of Diwali in the UK and the United States).


In the Catholic Church, the holiday is strongly associated with reverencing the Virgin Mary.  In Hindu tradition it is called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” or “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight”, and it is celebrated in countries with Hindu population, especially in Nepal. It is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh i.e. April/May.


African countries

Many African countries adopted the idea of one Mother’s Day from the British tradition, although there are many festivals and events celebrating mothers within the many diverse cultures on the African continent that long pre-date the colonization of Africa by European powers.

Arab World

Mother’s Day in most of Arab countries is celebrated on March 21. Egypt is the first country to celebrate this day


In Bangladesh, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of the month of May. In observance of the day discussion programs are organized by government and non-governmental organizations. Reception programs, cultural programs are organized to mark the day in the Capital city. Television channels aired special programs and newspapers published special features and column to mark the day. Greeting cards, flowers and gifts featuring mother’s specialty to the children were on high demand at the shops and markets.


In Bolivia, Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 27. The Dia de la Madre Boliviana was passed into law on November 8, 1927, during the presidency of Hernando Siles Reyes. It commemorates the Battle of Coronilla which took place on May 27, 1812, during the Bolivian War of Independence, in what is now the city of Cochabamba. In this battle, women fighting for the country’s independence were slaughtered by the Spanish army. It’s not a festive day, but all schools make activities and festivities during this day.


The Mother’s Day holiday, like St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Father’s Day and Halloween, is traditionally observed in Canada. In almost all features, it is identical to the US version of Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day in Canada is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.


In China, Mother’s Day is becoming more popular, and carnations are a very popular gift and the most sold type of flower. In 1997 it was set as the day to help poor mothers, especially to remind people of the poor mothers in rural areas such as China’s western region. In the People’s Daily, the Communist Party of China’s official newspaper, an article explained that “despite originating in the United States, people in China take the holiday with no hesitance because it goes in line with the country’s traditional ethics – respect to the elderly and filial piety to parents.”

In recent years Communist Party of China’s member Li Hanqiu began to advocate for the official adoption of Mother’s Day in memory of Meng Mu, the mother of Mèng Zǐ, and formed a Non-governmental organization called Chinese Mothers’ Festival Promotion Society, with the support of 100 Confucian scholars and lecturers of ethics. They also ask to replace the Western gift of carnations with lilies, which, in ancient times, were planted by Chinese mothers when children left home. It remains an unofficial festival, except in a small number of cities.

Czech republic

Czechoslovakia celebrated Women’s Day until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. After the split of the country in 1993, the Czech republic started celebrating Mother’s Day and Saint Valentin. However, the Czechs saw those two celebrations as commercialized and artificial, and they had mild popularity. Nowadays, the sales of flowers in Women’s Day are higher than in Mother’s Day or S. Valentin’s Day.


In the 1930s Germany has the lowest birthrate in Europe, and it was still declining. It was attributed incorrectly to women’s participation in the labor market. At the same time, all influence groups in society (politicians in both Left and Right, churchwomen and feminists) thought that mothers should be honored, but they couldn’t agree in how to do it. All those groups agreed strongly in the promotion of the values of motherhood. This resulted in the unanimous adoption in 1923 of the Muttertag, the Mother’s Day holiday as imported from America and Norway. The head of the Association of German Florists cited “the inner conflict of our volk and the loosening of the family” as his reason for introducing the holiday, and he expected that it united the divided country. In 1925 the Mother’s Day Committee joined the Task Force for the recovery of the volk, and the holiday stopped depending from commercial interests and it started being about the level of population Germany.

The holiday was now seen as a means to get the women to bear more children, and nationalism saw it as a way of rejuvenating the nation. The holiday didn’t celebrate the individual women, but an idealized standard of motherhood. The progressive forces resisted the implementation of the holiday because it was backed by so many conservatives, and because they saw it as a way to cut the rights of the worker women. The Die Frau, the newspaper of the Federation of German Women’s Associations, resisted to even recognize the holiday. Many local authorities made their own interpretation of the holiday: it would be a day to support economically larger families or single-mother families. The guidelines for the subsidies had eugenics criteria, but there is no indication that social workers ever implemented them in practice, and subsidies were given preferentially to families in economic needs rather that families with more children or with “healthier” children.

When the Nazi party reached the power during 1938-1945, this all changed radically. The propaganda for Mother’s Day had increased in many European countries, including England and France, and Nazis increased it from the moment they entered in power. The role of mothers was unambiguously promoted as that of giving healthy sons to the German Nation. The Nazi party’s intention was creating a pure “Aryan race” according to the nazi eugenics. Among other Mother’s Day ideas, the government promoted the death of your sons in battle as the highest embodiment of patriotic motherhood.

The Nazis quickly declared Mother’s Day an official holiday and put it under the control of the NSV (National Socialist People’s Welfare Association) and the NSF (National Socialist Women Organization). This brought conflicts with other organizations that resented Nazi’s control of the holiday, like the Catholic and the Protestant churches and local women organizations. Local authorities continuously resisted the guidelines from the Nazi government and kept assigning resources to families that were in economical need, much to the dismay of the Nazi officials .

The government started issuing in 1938 an award called Mother’s Cross (Mutterkreuz), with different categories depending on the number of children. The cross intended to encouraging having more children, and recipients had to have at least 4 children. For example, a gold cross recipient (a level one) had to have eight children or more. In later years there had been a tendency for having smaller children, which meant that the gold cross was awarded mostly to elderly mothers with grown children. It promoted loyalty among German women and it was a popular award even if it had little material awards and it was mostly empty praise. The recipients of honors had to be examined by doctors and social workers according to genetic and racial values that were considered beneficial to the volk. The friends and family were also examined for possible flaws that could disqualify them, and they had to be racially and morally fit. They had to be “German-blooded”, “genetically healthy”, “worthy”, “politically reliable”, and they hadn’t to have vices like drinking. Criteria against honors were, for example, “family history contains inferior blood”, “unfemenine” behaviour like smoking or doing poor housekeeping, being “not politically reliable”, or having family members that had been “indicted and imprisoned”. There were instances where a family was disqualified because a doctor saw signs of “feeblemindness” Even contact with a Jew could disqualify a potential recipient. Social workers had become disillusioned from the Weimar Republic and supported Nazi ideas personally as a mean to “cure” the problems of the country. Application of policies was uneven, as doctors promoted medical criteria over racial criteria, and local authorities promoted economical need over any other criteria.

The holiday is now celebrated in the second Sunday of May, in a manner similar to other nearby European countries.


Mother’s Day in Greece corresponds to the Eastern Orthodox feast day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Since the Theotokos (The Mother of God) appears prominently in this feast as the one who brought Christ to the Temple at Jerusalem, this feast is associated with mothers.


Mother’s Day is celebrated nationally on 19 August.  The festival of Pâthâre Prabhu is celebrated in the same day only in Bombay and the Southern part of India (concretely Konkan and the districts below the Western Ghats). It is based on a legend about a mother whose children kept dying after only one year of living and it has a very remote origin. Although it’s also called “Mother’s Day”, it is unrelated to the modern celebration, which is copied from the US and is celebrated in the whole country. The Pathare prabhu caste always celebrates this holiday.


Mother’s day (Indonesian: Hari Ibu) is celebrated nationally on December 22. It is the day of the first Indonesian Women Congress (Indonesian: Konggres Perempuan Indonesia) from December 22 to 25, 1928. The meeting happens in a building now known as Mandalabhakti Wanitatama in Adisucipto Street, Yogyakarta. It was attended by 30 female organizations from 12 cities in Java and Sumatra. In Indonesia, female organizations have existed since 1912, inspired by Indonesian heroines of the 19th century, e.g. Kartini, Martha Christina Tiahahu, Cut Nyak Meutia, Maria Walanda Maramis, Dewi Sartika, Nyai Ahmad Dahlan, Rasuna Said, etc.

The idea to make the day official was started during the third Indonesian Women Congress in 1938. It was signed by president Soekarno under the Presidential Decree (Indonesian: Dekrit Presiden) no. 316 year 1959. The day was originally aimed to celebrate the spirit of Indonesian women to improve the condition of the nation. Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated by expressing love and gratitude to mothers. People present gifts to mothers, such as flowers, hold surprise parties and competitions such as cooking competition or kebaya wearing competition. People also allow mothers to have their day off from doing domestic chores.


Celebrated on 20 Jumada al-thani, the birthday anniversary of Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter. It was changed after the Iranian revolution, the reason having been theorized as trying to undercut feminist movements and promoting role models for the traditional model of family. It was previously 25 Azar on Iranian calendar during the Shah era.


It is celebrated on Shevat 30, which falls anywhere between January 30 and March 1. It was set to the same day as the birthday of Henrietta Szold. Henrietta had no biological children, but her organization Youth Aliyah rescued many Jewish children from Nazi Germany and took care of them, and she also fought for several rights of Jewish children. She is considered the “mother” of all those children, and that’s why her birthday was set as Mother’s Day (יוֹם הָאֵם, yom ha’em). It has evolved over time, becoming a celebration of mutual love inside the family and it’s called Family Day (יוֹם הַמִּשְׁפָּחָה, yom hamishpaxa). It’s only celebrated by children at kindergartens, there are no longer mutual gifts among members of the family, and there is no longer any commercialization of the celebration. It’s not an official holiday either.  Israeli Arabs (about 20% of the population) celebrate Mother’s Day on 21 March, similar to other Arab countries.

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, there was a medieval celebration called Mothering Sunday, which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday. It is believed to have originated from the 16th century Christian practice of visiting one’s mother church annually, which meant that most mothers would be reunited with their children on this day. Most historians believe that young apprentices and young women in servitude were released by their masters that weekend in order to visit their families. As a result of secularization, it was then principally used to show appreciation to one’s mother, although it is still recognized in the historical sense by some churches, with attention paid to Mary the mother of Jesus Christ as well as the traditional concept ‘Mother Church’.

By 1935 Mothering Sunday was no longer celebrated in Europe. The idea was revived by the American soldiers who came to fight in World War II, who celebrated Anna Jarvis’ Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of March. People from Ireland and UK started celebrating Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the same day on which Mothering Sunday had been celebrated before it disappeared. Some traditions were revived, such as the tradition of eating cake on that day, although they now eat simnel cake instead of the cakes that were traditionally prepared at that time.  Mothering Sunday can fall at the earliest on 1 March (in years when Easter Day falls on 22 March) and at the latest on 4 April (when Easter Day falls on 25 April).


Mother’s Day in Japan was initially commemorated during the Shōwa period as the birthday of Empress Kōjun (mother of Emperor Akihito) on 6 March. This was established in 1931 when Imperial Women’s Union was organised. In 1937, the first meeting of “Praise Mothers” was held on 8 May, and in around 1949 Japanese society adapted to celebrate Mother’s day on the second Sunday of May, the same as many other counties. Nowadays it is rather a marketed holiday, and people typically give flowers such as red carnations and roses as gifts.


The government of Álvaro Obregón imported the holiday from the US in 1922, with the newspaper Excélsior making a massive promotion campaign that year. The conservative government tried to use the holiday to promote a more conservative role of mothers in families, which was criticized by the socialists as promoting an irrealistic image of a woman that wasn’t worth for much more than breeding.

In the mid-1930s the government of Lázaro Cárdenas promoted the holiday as a “patriotic festival”. The Cárdenas government tried to use the holiday a vehicle for various efforts: remarking the important that families had into national development, benefiting from the loyalty that Mexicans had towards their mothers, introducing new morals into the Mexican women and reducing the influence that the church and the Catholic right had in them. The government sponsored the holiday in the schools. However, the theatre plays ignored the strict guidelines from the government and they were filled with religious icons and themes, and the “national celebrations” became “religious fiestas” despite the efforts of the government.

Soledad Orozco García, the wife of President Manuel Ávila Camacho, promoted the holiday during the 1940s, making it into an important state-sponsored celebration. The 1942 celebration lasted a whole week, including an announcement that all women could reclaim their pawned sewing machines out from Monte de Piedad at no cost.

The catholic National Synarchist Union (UNS) started paying attention to the holiday around 1941, due to Orozco’s promotion. The members of the Party of the Mexican Revolution (nowadays PRI) that owned shops had a custom where women from humble classes could go to their shop in mother’s day, pick a gift for free, and bring it home to their families. The Synarchists worried that this promoting both materialism and the idleness of lower classes, and in turn reinforcing the sistemic social problematics of the country. While nowadays we see those holiday practices as very conservative, the 1940s’ UNS was viewing the holiday as a part of the larger debate on modernization that was happening at the time. This economic modernization was inspired in US models and was sponsored by the state, and the fact that the holiday was originally imported from the US was only seen as one more evidence that it was an attempt at imposing capitalization and materialism in Mexican society.

Also, the UNS and the clergy of the city of León saw in the government actions an effort to secularize the holiday and to promote a more active role of women in society, with the long term goal of weakening men spiritually when women abandoned her traditional roles at home. They also saw the holiday as an attempt to secularize the cult to Virgin Mary, inside a larger effort to dechristianize several holidays, and they tried to counter this by organizing massives masses and asking religious women to assist to the state-sponsored events and try to “depaganize” them. In 1942, at the same time as Soledad’s greatest celebration of the holiday, the clergy organized in León the 210th celebration of the Virgin Mary with a big parade.

There is a consensus among scholars that the Mexican government abandoned its revolutionary initiaves during the 1940s, including efforts to influence Mother’s Day. Nowadays the holiday in Mexico is a celebration of both mothers and the Virgin Mary.  Nowadays the “Día de las Madres” is an unofficial holiday in Mexico held each year on May 10.


“Mata Tirtha Aunshi”, translated as “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight”, falls in the month of Baishak dark fortnight (April). This festival falls in the time of dark moon’s time which is why this called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” derived from words: “Mata” meaning mother; “Tirtha” meaning pilgrimage. This festival is observed in the commemoration and respect of the mother which is celebrated by worshipping and gifting living mother or remembering mothers who have become immortal and are resting in peace. Going to Mata Tirtha Pilgrimage located towards the Kathmandu valley’s eastern side at Mata Tirtha Village development committee’s periphery is another tradition common in Nepal.

There is a legend regarding this pilgrimage. In ancient times Lord Krishna’s mother Devaki walked out her house to sight-see. She visited many places and delayed a lot to return back at her house. Lord Krishna became very unhappy because of his mother’s disappearance. So he went out in search of his mother to many places without success. Finally, when he reached “Mata Tirtha Kunda”, he happened to see his mother taking bath there in the spouts of that pond. Lord Krishna was very happy to find her there and narrated all of his tragedies in the absence of his mother. Mother Devaki said to lord Krishna that “oh! Son Krishna let then, this place be the pious rendezvous of children to meet their departed mothers”. So legends believe that since then this place had become a noted holy pilgrimage to see back a devotees’ deceased mother. Also legend believes that a devotee saw his mother’s image inside the pond and he happened to die falling there down. So still there is a small pond fenced by the iron rods in the place even on this present day as well. After the worship the pilgrimage enjoy there singing and dancing throughout the day in the festive mood. There is not evidence of happening of this legend as these are coming from elders based on ancient readings.


In Nicaragua the Día de la Madre is celebrated in May 30 since the first years of the 1940s. The date was chosen by President Anastasio Somoza García because it was the birthday of Casimira Sacasa, the mother of his wife.


In Panama it’s celebrated in 8 December, the same day as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This date was suggested in 1930 by the wife of Panama’s President Florencio Harmodio Arosemena, and it was passed as Law 69 in the same year.

According to other account, the Rotary Club of Panama asked in 1924 that Mother’s Day was celebrated in 11 May to honor mothers, but a politician called Aníbal D. Ríos changed the proposal, so that it would be held in 8 December, and he made it into a national holiday.


In Paraguay it is celebrated in 15 May, the same day as the Dia de la Patria, which celebrates the independence of Paraguay. This is apparently to honor the role played by Juana María de Lara in the events of 14 May 1811 that led to Paraguay’s independence.

In 2008 the Paraguayan Minister of Culture, Bruno Barrios, lamented this coincidence because Mother’s Day is so much more popular in comparison that the independence celebration goes unnoticed; he asked that the celebration was moved to the end of the month. A group of young people was trying to gather 20,000 signatures to ask the Parliament to move Mother’s Day. The Comisión de festejos (Celebration Committee) of the city of Asunción asked in 2008 that Mother’s Day was moved to the second Sunday of May.


Mother’s day in Thailand is celebrated on the birthday of the Queen of Thailand, Queen Sirikit (12 Aug). It started being celebrated around the 1980s as part of the campaign by the Prime Minister of Thailand Prem Tinsulanonda to promote Thailand’s Royal family. Father’s Day is celebrated on the King’s birthday.


In Romania, until 2009 this was celebrated in March 8, as part of the International Women’s Day. As of 2010 this is celebrated on the first Sunday of May.


Czechoslovakia celebrated Women’s Day until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. After the split of the country in 1993, Slovakia started celebrating both Women’s Day and Mother’s Day. The politicization of Women’s Day has affected the official status of Mother’s Day. The center-right parties have demanded that Women’s Day is officially replaced by Mother’s Day, but they have been unsuccessful (due to the opposition of left-wing parties).

United States

The United States celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. In the 1880s and 1890s there were several attempts to establish a Mother’s Day, but they didn’t succeed beyond the local level. The holiday was created by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia, in 1908 as a day to honor one’s mother. Jarvis wanted to accomplish her mother’s dream of making a celebration for all mothers, although the idea didn’t take off until she enlisted the services of wealthy Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker. She kept promoting the holiday until President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday in 1914. The holiday eventually became highly commercialized that many, including its founder, Anna Jarvis, considered it a “Hallmark Holiday”, i.e. one with an overwhelming commercial purpose. Jarvis eventually ended up opposing the holiday she had helped to create. She died in 1948, regretting what had become of her holiday. In the United States, Mother’s Day remains one of the biggest days for sales of flowers, greeting cards, and the like; it is also the biggest holiday for long-distance telephone calls.


Mother’s Day in Vietnam is called Lễ Vu-lan and celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. People with living mothers would be thankful, while people with dead mothers would pray for their souls.

It is your mother who brings you to see the light of this world. It is she who looks after the helpless you and serves you with all her heart and does everything to make your life comfortable. Just for a day, at least, we shall stop taking our mothers for granted.

Mother’s Day is one occasion that gives you the opportunity to do something for your mother. And if you start wondering about the reasons you need to treat your mother, you would end up with nothing less than a zillion reasons. Let’s just remember the most important reasons for which we need to be grateful to our mom and that would be enough to arrange a lavish treat for her on the special occasion of Mother’s Day.

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” ~ Tenneva Jordan

Source: wikipedi.com

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