Mother’s Day: International Traditions

by Charlotte.Barnes on March 14, 2012

Mother's Day cakeMother’s Day, also known as Mothering Sunday, Mothers Day, Simnel Sunday and Rose Sunday, is a celebration for mothers across the world and is an opportunity for us to show our love and appreciation for their role in our lives.
Mothers Day is celebrated all year round, depending on which country you live in. Norway celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in February, while New Zealand has theirs on the second Sunday in May. Belarus marks Mother’s Day on October 14th and there are many more dates in between all over the world. The style and customs of each country’s celebrations also differ and so we’ve got together a list of our favourite international Mother’s Day traditions.


In Australia, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Although it is not officially a public holiday, nor is it known as a holiday, it is still widely practiced across the country. The tradition of gift giving on Mother’s Day in Australia was started by Mrs Janet Heyden in 1924 after she visited a patient at the Newington State Home for Women and met many lonely and forgotten mothers. She began rounding up support from the local community and businesses to donate gifts and it has grown from there. Traditionally, chrysanthemums are given to mothers on this day in Australia as the flower is naturally in season during autumn, and it ends in ‘mum’!


In China carnations are a very popular gift for mothers, particular red ones which are said to represent luck. In 1997 it was set as the day to help poor mothers and to remind people of those who live in rural areas such as China’s western region.


Mother’s day in Indonesia is celebrated on 22 December which is also the day of the first Indonesian Women Congress. The idea to make the day official was started during the third Indonesian Women Congress in 1938 and was originally aimed to celebrate the spirit of Indonesian women and 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 a cooking competition or kebaya wearing competition.


Mother’s day in the Philippines is celebrated every second Sunday of May. Mothers are called the ‘light of the household’  and so family members treat their mother for lunch/dinner out, spend time together in a park, shopping or having relaxing treatments such as going to spa or getting their hair cut. The children help to clean their home, wash the dishes and other helpful things that mother routinely does each day.


In Sweden, Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1919, although it took several decades for the day to be widely recognized. Mother´s Day in Sweden is celebrated the last Sunday in May, last year, 2011, it was the 29 May. The reason for the late date is said to be because then everybody can go outside and pick flowers.

The International Mother’s Day Shrine

Since 1908, a celebration for mothers has taken place at the Andrews Methodist Church, now known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in the town of Grafton, West Virginia. This historic building has been designated a National Historic Landmark and was the focal point in the town’s centennial celebration of the first Mother’s Day, which took place in May, 2008.

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Charlotte Barnes

Post category: Flowers, Knowledge, Mother's Day, Occasions, Other Flowers  

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