Mother’s Day around the world

Every year, a special Sunday in May will become the day that we honour motherhood, and the role of mothers in society.

Mothers not only anchor their own families, mothers build communities around themselves, always giving back and empowering others to then give to others. And while everyone no matter what culture would agree that mothers deserve a day of recognition, Mother’s Day may look a little different depending on where you live.

While you plan the perfect Sunday for your mummy dearest, here are some interesting facts about Mother’s Day that might inspire you to hug her a little tighter and make her day a little more special!

1. Mother’s Day began in the United States

That is, the Mother’s Day observance that was officially added to international calendars, and grew into the worldwide commercial holiday that it is today.

In the late 1800s, a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis started “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women in West Virginia about child-caring. After she passed, her daughter Anna Jarvis embarked on creating an official Mother’s Day, in memory of her own mother but also as a day to express reverence and acknowledge the sacrifices mothers make for their children. And with the financial support of a department store owner, she organised the first Mother’s Day celebration at a church; and with the success of her event, subsequently set out to see her holiday added to the national calendar.


2. Mother’s Day doesn’t fall on the same day in every country

This year, many people around the world will be celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday, 9th May 2021. But that is not the case everywhere.

In Thailand, Mother’s Day is observed annually on August 12th, and is a double-celebration for all mothers but also as a reverence to the beloved Thai Queen mother, whose birthday falls on that day (and will turn 89 years old this year!).

In France, the day falls on the last Sunday of May (instead of the second). And interestingly, in the rare occasion that Mother’s Day might fall on the same day as Pentecost (a Christian observance marking the 50th day from Easter Sunday and public holiday in France), Mother’s Day might even get pushed to June so that mums can still have a day for themselves without having to share the spotlight with another occasion!

In Arab-speaking countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on March 21st. This practice stretches from the UAE (which is on the Asian side of the Middle East) to Egypt (in Africa), and is believed to date back to the time of the pharaohs.

Photo by Laura Garcia from Pexels

The American practice of declaring the 2nd Sunday of May as Mother’s Day is simply the international standard that many other countries have adopted.

3. The history of Mother’s Day varies from country-to-country.

While the commercialised version of Mother’s Day now exists everywhere, a day for honoring mothers has existed in many countries way before globalisation and commercialisation, and the origins of Mother’s Day around the world cannot be simply ‘translated’ across borders. In other countries, the decision on when Mother’s Day falls is often rooted in the changing of seasons, as well as cultural and religious celebrations.

The Arab-world’s Mother’s Day is celebrated in the 3rd week of March to also mark the first day of spring.

In France, the notion of Mother’s Day began after World War I where mothers of large families were honored and given medals, as an appreciation for helping to rebuild the population. The celebration then extended to include all mothers.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

And in the United Kingdom, Mother’s Day is traditionally known as Mothering Sunday. Marking the fourth Sunday of Lent (whenever that would fall), Mothering Sunday was the day that families went to church together, often reuniting or regrouping with other family members who had already left the family home. This then evolved into families spending time together for Mothering Sunday weekend, and traditional cakes also became associated to the celebration,

Feeling inspired to spoil your mum for Mother’s Day? Check out the GemSpot app for a number of promotions including a specially curated gift section for Mother’s Day, and if you’re ordering in for a Mother’s Day meal at home, enjoy delivery at only RM1.

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