Mother's Day Around the World

May 2, 2016 Natalie Williams

There have been celebrations dedicated to mothers tracing back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. These ancient traditions led to what is now known as Mother's Day. While commonly celebrated in many western cultures on the second Sunday of May, many unique customs still exist around the world.

In Ethiopia, mothers must work hard to prepare a feast whereas in Norway, moms get breakfast in bed. In Egypt, Mother's Day was introduced by journalist Mustafa Amin who wrote about it in his book, Smiling America. While originally ridiculed, it was accepted as a holiday by President Nasser in 1956.

Anna Jarvis founded the Mother's Day holiday in the U.S. in Philadelphia in 1908, three years after her mother's death. Jarvis held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, known today as the International Mother's Day Shrine, marking the first official observance of Mother's Day. The International Mother's Day Shrine has been a designated National Historic Landmark since October 5, 1992.

Jarvis dedicated the white carnation as the symbol of Mother's Day by saying, "Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying. When I selected this flower, I was remembering my mother's bed of white pinks."

Today the original symbols have shifted slightly. The white carnation now honors deceased mothers and the red carnation represents living mothers. My mother is a florist, so I am very aware of just how many flowers are sent on this day in the U.S. It is the biggest day of the year for florists, exceeding even Valentine's Day.

Read through this Mother's Day traditions guide by ProFlowers to learn more about how families celebrate mothers in countries around the world.

gpi-mothers day-infographic

GPI would like to wish all mothers a very happy Mother's Day!

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About the Author

Natalie Williams

Global Digital Marketing Manager. Natalie was born and raised in Montana where she graduated from The University of Montana with a degree in Business Administration. Her international experience includes two summer programs, one at The European Business School in Germany and the other at The University of Brescia in Italy. She studied a variety of global business subjects including international business, trade, culture and language. Key projects for her undergrad studies included meeting with executives from large corporations such as Lufthansa, Opel, and The European Central Bank as well as working with the design team on the marketing plan for the 2015 World Fair in Milan, Italy. She has a range of global event management experience including organization of the Annual Mansfield Conference on the Middle East and the China Town Hall meeting series. Her hobbies include yoga, cooking, reading, being outdoors and traveling.

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