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Mother’s Day Traditions from Around the World

woman giving mother mother's day flowers and gift

Honoring mom with a celebration for her enduring love, patience, and service to her family isn't something that's only done in America. Moms get a special day just for them all over the world! From Mexico to the United Kingdom, France, and Peru, moms of all cultures and backgrounds are recognized in their own special way. Read on to learn what Mother's Day traditions look like around the world. 

United States Mother's Day Traditions 

Back in 1907, Ann Jarvis, a peace activist, held the first celebration of what would later become known as Mother's Day. She held a memorial service for her late mother, honoring her and expressing her love and gratitude. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson made Mother's Day official, signing a proclamation that designated the second Sunday of May Mother's Day, a national holiday to honor mothers. One of the oldest, time-honored traditions of celebrating Mother's Day in the United States is writing handwritten letters to mom, showing her how much she means to you. Today, more than 56% of women in the United States are moms, and thanks to Ann Jarvis, they're celebrated each year with gifts. Popular Mother's Day gift ideas include:  

  • Candy
  • Fragrances
  • Candles 
  • Cards 
  • Flowers
  • Jewelry 
  • Gift Cards 

Canada Mother's Day Traditions

 Just like the American celebration of Mother's Day, Canada honors moms on the second Sunday of May. While it's not a federally recognized holiday, many Canadians observe the day by giving moms, aunts, grandmas, and other influential female family members the Mother's Day gifts, love, support, and attention they deserve. One of the most recognized traditions in Canada hails from Quebec. On Mother's Day, men offer roses and other flowers to the impactful motherly figures.  

Home-grown flowers are great for gifting while also creating a beautiful outdoor escape. The maximalist garden trend is incredibly vibrant. Read about it here.

Mexico Mother's Day Traditions

With a culture that's big on family, Mexico's Dia de las Madres is held on May 10. Though an unofficial holiday, the day is widely recognized across the country. Grown-ups and kids take the day off school and work to be with family, and pampering mom with song, dance, and relaxation is what the day is all about. Traditionally, moms are serenaded with the famous song "Las Mañanitas" and given flowers. Many families also cook for mom, grill meals, or take her out to eat. 

Brazil Mother's Day Traditions

Falling on the second Sunday in May, Mother's Day, or Dia das Mães, is one of the largest celebrations in Brazil. Second only to Christmas, this commonly celebrated holiday is a multi-generational affair. Grandmas, aunts, and moms are often honored together in big family gatherings. While mom enjoys a Brazilian feast of grilled meats and traditional dishes, it's customary to indulge in a treasured dessert, passionfruit mousse.  

young child and mom hugging on mother's day

Peru Mother's Day Traditions

Peruvians celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May, just like many other countries. They gift mom flowers, cards, sentimental objects, and tasty foods; however, one unique tradition that Peruvians take part in is a visit to the cemetery. By tending to and decorating the grave site of a lost loved one, Peruvian families recognize the important mother figures in their lives who have passed away. The cemetery visit is accompanied by a celebration with food, drinks, and cherished memories of female relatives who have passed on. 

Mexico's Day of the Dead is celebrated similarly to Peru's Mother's Day. Check out FAQs: Day of the Dead to learn about this festive occasion.

United Kingdom Mother's Day Traditions

The UK's Mother's Day history dates back to the 16th century. Best known as Mothering Sunday, it's held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Back then, people who worked far from their birthplace would come back to visit their "mother church" and their own mother. A religious holiday, the day was spent at church, and gifts of flowers were left at the mother church and presented to the family's matriarch. Additionally, moms were often treated to delicious desserts, like cakes and pies. Today, many of these customs remain the same, and people attend religious services, gifting mom goodies, flowers, and other sentimental objects. 

France Mother's Day Traditions

France's Fête des Mères is celebrated on the last Sunday of May. A Christian holiday, if the Fête des Mères coincides with Pentecost, France's Mother's Day celebrations are rescheduled to the first Sunday in June. Beginning in 1904 to honor mothers of large families, Mother's Day became a nationally recognized official holiday for the French in 1950. While mothers of large families were awarded medals in the early 1900s, as Mother's Day neared official designation, all mothers were celebrated with gifts, edible treats, flowers, and more. Just like other celebrations, French moms are treated to a day of rest, relaxation, and lots of love. 

Does your mom love to read? Gift her one of these books about motherhood.

Japan Mother's Day Traditions

In Japan, Mother's Day (Haha No Hi) replicates that of the United States. It's celebrated on the same day and traditions include gifting mom flowers and a tasty meal. It's particularly customary to offer mom red carnations. A classic symbol of love, red carnations also represent sweetness and the endurance of motherhood in Japanese culture. Carnations bloom in late spring to midsummer, so they're the perfect expression of care and tenderness for moms held near and dear. 

young child giving mother mother's day gift

What to Get Mom for Mother's Day 

Mother's Day traditions from around the world all include giving gifts. Whether it's gifting mom a handwritten letter, a sentimental object, red carnations, or something else, there's nothing that she won't cherish. If you're looking to think outside the box, read our article, "Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Every Type of Mom." Our curated list of the top 10 Mother's Day gift ideas is designed to cater to every type of mom.

Mother's Day FAQs

What is Mother's Day?

Mother's Day is a holiday where we celebrate and honor mothers, mother figures, and maternal bonds. 

When is Mother's Day 2024? 

Mother's Day is May 12, 2024. 

When is Mother's Day in Mexico? 

Mexican Mother's Day is on Friday, May 10, 2024.