Whether you call her mom, mommy, mother, or momma, we hope that you have something special planned for Mother’s Day. Stateside, our Mother’s Day celebrations consist of May brunches and flower bunches, but that’s not always the case around the globe. Here are 6 unique ways other countries around the world celebrate the wonderful women that brought them into it:
Forget summer brunches and the second Sunday of May—in Ethiopia, the timing of Mother’s Day is determined by the weather patterns. There is no set date—the celebration, known as Antrosht, takes place as soon as the rainy season ends sometime between October and November. Children travel home for the three-day celebration of maternal love, each carrying with them an ingredient for a traditional Ethiopian hash: the girls bring spices and dairy, while the boys bring lamb or bull meat. After the family’s matriarch cooks up the feast, the women anoint their faces with butter and dance to songs that celebrate family and traditional Ethiopian heroes.
Carnations and roses are major players in most Japanese households on Mother’s Day, or Ha No Hi. The celebration ideally begins with children waking up early to greet their mother with a Haha no Hi! (Happy Mother’s Day!) and plying her with the fragrant flowers, which symbolize love, sweetness, and loyalty.
Mothering Day, not to be confused with the American Mother’s Day, has a long religious history in England, dating back to the 16th century. While much of the celebration is now Hallmark-esque (cards, chocolates, flowers, and all), the festivities fall on the last Sunday of Lent, rather than the second Sunday of May. Many households break their Lenten fasts on Mothering Day to eat traditional fruitcake covered with 12 balls of marzipan, called a Simnel cake.
Both literal and figurative mothers are celebrated on Wan Mae in Thailand. While the holiday started as an April fête in the 1940s, the date was eventually changed to August 12th in order to coincide with Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s birthday. The Queen, who is referred to as the Mother of All Thai People, is honored around the country with lavish decorations, twinkling lights, gilded portraits, and joyous street parades in large cities. On a more intimate level, Thai matriarchs are often gifted with jasmine flowers, which symbolize purity and gentleness.
Every mother is a heroine in her own right, of course, but in Bolivia, the roots of Dia de la Madre stem from the Bolivian War of Independence in 1812. In a small town called Cochabamba, hundreds of women attempted to protect their children from a Spanish invasion by climbing San Sebastian Hill and carrying vestiges of the Virgin Mary while shouting, “Our home is sacred!” Though the women were eventually overtaken and the town captured, their brave actions are commemorated on May 27 each year as schools celebrate with dancing and gift giving.
In Nepal, the Mata Tirtha Aunsi celebration of maternal love usually falls around April or May, in accordance with the Lunar calendar. Families gather, and children present their mothers with various presents ranging from fruits and eggs to alcohol and milk curds. To honor deceased mothers, many make a pilgrimage to Mata Tirtha Pond—it is said that bathing in the pond’s waters will bring salvation to the dead and prosperity to their families.