Mother’s Day around the world

We take a look at traditions from around the globe and how other countries celebrate Mother’s Day.


The UK was one of the first countries to dedicate a day to mums.

During the 17th century families started celebrating ‘Mothering Sunday’ on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

It’s said that Mother’s Day was an opportunity for young servant girls who worked away from home to visit their mothers and they would bake a simnel cake to give as a gift.


In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day after a campaign run by Anna Jarvis.

She wanted the day to be a celebration between mothers and families and a way of acknowledging the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

Unfortunately, as the commercial popularity of Mother’s Day increased, Anna began a campaign against Mother’s Day and those companies that profited from it.


Celebrated on the last Sunday in May, Mother’s Day was introduced in Sweden in 1919. A brochure was published outlining ‘appropriate festivities’.

These included flying the flag, serving mother breakfast in bed, giving her a day of rest, singing songs and reading poems, asking forgiveness and promising to mend one’s ways.

The Swedish Red Cross sells small plastic flowers to raise money to help vulnerable mums and their children.


The holiday was first celebrated around the 1980s as part of a campaign by the Prime Minister to promote Thailand’s Royal family, hence it is celebrated on the Queen’s birthday on 12 August.


The origins of Mother’s Day in France date back to early 1900 when the Union Fraternelle was founded to pay tribute to the parents of large families.

After World War I, Mother’s Day – la Fête des Mères – evolved due to a desire to re-populate the country.

Mums were celebrated and medals known as ‘Médailles de la Famille Française’ were awarded depending on the number of children a woman had.


Almost half of Australians rank Mother’s Day as their most significant special day. Australian Janet Heyden is credited with starting the tradition of gift giving, with a campaign in 1924 to collect gifts for lonely mothers.