Celebrating Mother's Day: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Traditions

Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers and motherhood, honoring the influence of mothers in society. This special day has been observed for centuries, with different countries having their unique customs and traditions. In this blog, I will explore three different cultures, French, Spanish, and American, and their unique way of celebrating Mother’s Day.


French Culture


In France, the celebration of Mother’s Day – “La Fête des Mères,” has a long history, dating back to the early 20th century. It is celebrated on the last Sunday of May, except when Pentecost Sunday falls on the same day. French families typically gather for a special meal on this day, and children present their mothers with cards or gifts. The traditional flower for this occasion is the rose, associated with the Virgin Mary, considered a symbol of motherhood.


One of the most unique things about Mother’s Day in France is that it was initially created to increase the country’s population. The French government believed honoring mothers would encourage them to have more children, improving the country’s declining birth rate. This is why Mother’s Day in France focuses more on families than other cultures, and spending the day with children and grandchildren is customary.


Spanish Culture


In Spain, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of May, referred to as “Día de la Madre.” It is celebrated similarly to the French culture, with children presenting their mothers with flowers and gifts. In addition, however, in Spain, it is customary for children to prepare breakfast for their mothers, which they serve on a tray in bed, as a sign of appreciation for all their sacrifices.


Spanish culture strongly emphasizes family and religion, which is reflected in their celebration of Mother’s Day. Besides spending time with family, it is also a day to attend Mass with their mothers, where they offer prayers and thanksgiving. There has been a trend of buying Mother’s Day cards in recent years, but it is still less prevalent than in the United States.


American Culture


Mother’s Day in the United States is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, a national holiday. It is a significant event observed by people of all ages and an opportunity to show appreciation and gratitude for all that mothers do. In the United States, Mother’s Day is celebrated with gifts, cards, flowers, and special meals, such as brunch or dinner.


The American tradition of Mother’s Day began in the early 1900s, with a woman named Anna Jarvis, who campaigned for an official day to honor mothers. She succeeded, and President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first-ever National Mother’s Day in 1914. However, Anna Jarvis believed that Mother’s Day was a day to honor mothers, not to make a profit, and she protested against the holiday’s commercialization. Ironically, today, Mother’s Day is one of the biggest commercial holidays in America.


Traditions and Celebrations


In addition to the different cultural practices, unique Mother’s Day traditions are observed in different parts of the world. In Bolivia, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 27th of May, and it is customary to honor the Virgin Mary, a symbol of motherhood. It is a day to thank mothers for their love and hard work, and it is not uncommon for people to give their mothers gifts of alcohol as a sign of appreciation.


In Japan, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, just like in the United States. However, the tradition is different from other countries. It is customary to give flowers, especially carnations, to mothers. The color of the flower is significant, and it usually signifies the mother’s age. Pink or red carnations are given to those who have living mothers, while white ones are given to those whose mothers have passed away.


In Ethiopia, Mother’s Day is celebrated in mid-fall, around November, called “Antrosht.” It is a three-day celebration that involves feasting, dancing, and singing to honor motherhood. Families prepare a traditional “hash” meal of beans, vegetables, and meat. The mother is the center of attention, and families show gratitude by presenting her with jewelry or a new outfit.


In Conclusion


Mother’s Day celebrates mothers’ love, sacrifice, and hard work regardless of culture. It is an opportunity to honor, cherish, and appreciate the women who give us life and shape our future. Whether you are in France, Spain, America, or any other part of the world, the observance of Mother’s Day is a special moment that brings families together. We should remember that every day is Mother’s Day, and we should show our mothers the love and respect they deserve every day of the year.