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Mother’s Day is an American holiday, but its roots are international. The modern iteration of the holiday can be traced back to an early Christian festival called “Mothering Sunday.” This occasion, in which Christians would worship at their “mother church” (the main church reachable from their homes), eventually transitioned into a secular holiday on which children would bestow gifts upon their mothers. Early last century, the daughter of Anne Reeves Jarvis pushed to formalize Mother’s Day as an American national holiday in honor of Jarvis’ 19th century “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs,” where mothers could learn best child-rearing practices.
The push worked: Mother’s Day is now a firmly solidified American tradition, taking place annually on the second Sunday of May. The U.S. isn’t the only country in which people celebrate mothers and motherhood, though. Whether on Mother’s Day or at other times of the year, these countries also celebrate motherhood.
In recent years, China has begun to import the American traditions of Mother’s Day. Many people living in China, as Americans do, take the second Sunday of May every year to honor their mothers with gifts and other celebrations.
As with China, India has started celebrating Mother’s Day in American fashion, also always on the second Sunday of May. People living in India focus on giving flowers, cards, and gifts rather than holding outright celebrations.
According to Manuel Gutierrez, president of Mexico’s national association of restaurateurs, May 10th of every year is Mexico’s busiest day at its many restaurants, no matter the day of the week. This spike in patrons comes from how significant Mother’s Day, always celebrated on the 10th, is in the country. “El Dia de la Madre” always involves flowers and frequently includes food, celebrations, and music, not to mention morning serenades of the song “Las Mananitas” from traditional mariachi singers.
Mother’s Day is widely celebrated in Japan, especially by sons — as many as 87% of adult Japanese men have given their mothers gifts, especially red carnations or roses, for recent Mother’s Days. For the holiday, which is also celebrated in Japan on the second Sunday of May, school-aged children draw pictures of their mothers for art contests and take care of chores (and cooking, if the kids are old enough) so mothers can have a day off.
In a way, Russia celebrates Mother’s Day twice, but never on the second Sunday in May. During the country’s Soviet days, the International Women’s Day celebrations of March 8 doubled as Mother’s Day. Although post-Soviet Russian government officials changed the celebration of Mother’s Day to the final Sunday of November, the majority of Russians still give their gifts on March 8.
In France, teachers undertake a special tradition to help their students celebrate Mother’s Day. There, teachers help their students memorize poems to recite to their mothers on the holiday, which almost always takes place on the fourth Sunday of May. Then, when the day arrives, the students recite these poems to their mothers all on their own.
How are you celebrating Mother’s Day this year? Let us know in the comments!