How the world celebrates Mother's Day

Updated: May 12

✦ Mother’s Day is a truly special occasion where we all get the chance to show our genuine love and thanks to that one very special person in our lives.

Mum’s the word!

It goes without saying that it’s not only one solitary day each year where we do this, but Mother’s Day affords the opportunity for Mum’s all over to rightfully stand front and centre, take a day off and be lavished with attention!

Mother's Day is widely celebrated around the world
Mother's Day is widely celebrated around the world

Let’s face it, mothers are bona fide superstars! Not only do they carry and nurture us for a whole nine months before we are born but they raise us with an unconditional love and support that only a mother can, through our infant and petulant teenage years all the way up to and beyond our own adult lives. They help us make sense of the world, installing our emotional fibre and establishing our moral compass and are always there to turn to for invaluable advice and direction. We love our Mums, that’s for sure!

But what about a little history and insight into how the occasion originated and how it is celebrated across the world?


Ancient Greeks

Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world and has been for centuries. The ancient Greeks worshipped Rhea as the ‘Mother of Gods,’ celebrating via an annual spring festival to honour the goddess of nature and fertility.

Ancient Rome

Similarly, the spring festival of Hilaria was celebrated in ancient Rome on the Ides of March (March 15) some 250 years before Christ was born to honor of mother goddess Cybele where festivities including games, parades and masquerades would last for three days.


During Medieval times, apprentices and servants were allowed leave on Mothering Sunday in order to travel home and visit their mothers. The popular custom was to take a special Mother’s Day cake known as a Simnel cake, a rich fruit mixture with layers of almond paste in the middle and on top, decorated with 11 marzipan balls to represent the apostles of Jesus (minus Judas Iscariot).

Simnel cake for Mother's Day during Medieval times
Simnel cake for Mother's Day during Medieval times


Mother’s Day was adopted in the 16th century by Christians in the lead up to Easter as part of their Lenten traditions each year to honour the Virgin Mary. This is why Mother’s Day is celebrated in the UK on a different date to most other places in the world, exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday (it was celebrated on March 27 in the UK this year).

It was also during this period that the tradition of giving gifts became popular as families would reunite for a Mothering Sunday service at church and often children would pick flowers en route which they would then present to their mothers as gift bouquets, hence why the giving of flowers is still such a popular one.

Present day origins


Elsewhere, Mother’s Day tends to follow the traditional American date of the second Sunday in the month of May. This was established on May 12, 1907 by Philadelphia resident Anna Jarvis who wished to not only hold a memorial service for her late mother, who had died two years prior, but to mark a day when all mothers and the sacrificies they make could be honoured by their children.

The practice gained popularity as commemorative church services spread throughout America, leading to then President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 officially proclaiming the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day, describing the day “as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

Nowadays, Mother’s Day is, of course, a major celebration. According to statistics from the U.S. National Retail Federation published by Fox Business, an estimated US$31.7 billion was forcecast to be spent on Mother’s Day in the U.S. alone this year. Approximately 23 million flowers are sold on Mother’s Day each year, and about 122