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How is Mother's Day Celebrated Throughout the World?

Mother’s Day is not a holiday only celebrated in the United States but worldwide too. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, one of the founders, wrote the following proclamation for Mother’s Day.

Here are the ways others celebrate Mother’s Day throughout the world.

Bolivia: Bolivia celebrates Mother’s Day on May 27th to honor the women that lost their lives in 1812 in an attempt to gain their freedom from the Spanish Army. The Bolivian women joined the men in the battle with small weapons, sticks, and pans. Bolivians have celebrated this holiday since 1927, and children present their mothers with cakes “rather” than flowers.

Canada: The Canadians wear carnation brooches, and the French Canadian men present their mothers and wives with roses.

China: China’s Mother’s Day aligns with the traditions of filial piety, one of the principles of Confucianism. It encourages children to show respect, obedience, and support to their parents and elderly family members.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian Mother’s Day is the Antrosht festival, which varies yearly and occurs at the end of the rainy season. During this three-day festival, families come together over a feast to honor their ancestors. The daughters bring the fruits, veggies, and cheese, while the sons bring the meats to create a delicious meal.

France: Some have stated that Napoleon Bonaparte proposed La Fete des Meres persuaded women to have more children during the early 1800s. Since the Fete des Meres celebrates women’s equality, men were given a special “honor” for having large families because the country was experiencing a low birthrate “epidemic.” In 1904, France began recognizing women as men as equals in households. Fete des Meres became a federal holiday in 1920, and they celebrate it on the last Sunday of the month. The American soldiers stationed in France influenced their traditions.

Germany: Muttertag can be traced all back to the Medieval spring festival when the Germans celebrated the birth of a new season. During World War II, when Germany was under Nazi rule, the government awarded the Mutterkreuz gold, silver, and bronze medals for birthing four, six, or eight children. Between 1938 and 1944, 4.7 million German mothers received the medals. Today, the Germans celebrate Muttertag the Westernized way.

India: Indians participate in a 10-day festival called Durga Puja in the month of Ashvin. Durga Puja falls between September and October to celebrate the goddess “Durga” victory over the Mahishasur. The Indians participate in rituals, feasts, and public “processions” to commemorate the victory of good over evil and the mothers’ crucial roles in life and creation.

Indonesia: Indonesia celebrated Selamat Hari Ibu on December 22 to commemorate the first Indonesian woman in Congress in 1928. Initially, the holiday started to celebrate the women’s movement, but in the late 1960s, it was to honor mothers. The Indonesians typically wash their mothers’ feet, wear kebaya, and host children competitions judged by mothers.

Mexico: People in this region have celebrated mothers since the Mayan Empire. The Mayans had pantheons filled with female goddesses. Mexicans begin their Dia de las Madre celebration on May 10th, with children waking their mothers with a musical performance. In addition, the children put on skits, made cards, and took their mothers out of dinner so they did not need to cook.

Peru: On Mother’s Day in Peru, family members visit the cemeteries to honor their female relatives by cleaning and decorating their graves. It is a one-day celebration and a weeklong festival where Peruvians host events and run school programs.

Thailand: Thailand celebrated its first Mother’s Day in 1950. More than twenty years later, in 1976, on August 12th, it became an official holiday to honor Queen Skirkit’s birthday. The residents celebrate this holiday by giving offerings to Buddhist monks. In addition, Thai parents attend school programs where their children recite poems and songs and kneel at their mother’s feet as a “gesture” of respect.


Boston, 1870

Arise, then… women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

~ Julia Ward Howe


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