Motherhood Traditions Around The World
Happy Mother’s Day! We look at the many beautiful ways motherhood is honored around the globe.
There are so many ways birth and motherhood are embraced in different places and religions, though at the heart of, those experiences are bonded universally. Given today is Mother’s Day (in the USA anyway, an official holiday since 1914) we look at some unique traditions from around the globe.
India: 10-Day Festival
Each October, Hindus honor Durga, the goddess of mothers, during the 10-day festival known as Durga Puja. The celebration is thought to date back to the sixteenth century and is considered both a religious ceremony and a time for family reunions. One story tells of Durga returning to her parents’ home to show off her own children. Families spend weeks preparing food, gathering gifts, and decorating their homes for the festival.
Japan: The Right Flowers
Following World War II, a version of Mother’s Day grew popular as a way of comforting mothers who had lost sons to the war. You’ll see carnations presented around this March holiday, as they symbolize the sweetness and endurance of motherhood in Japanese culture. Originally, children gave a red carnation to a living mother and displayed a white one if their mother had died. Now, white has become the traditional color.
Ethiopia: Sing Along!
The Antrosht festival, observed at the end of the rainy season in early fall, is dedicated to moms. After the weather clears for good, family members from all over flock to their homes for a large meal and celebration. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables and cheese, while sons supply meat. Together, they prepare a meat hash and sing and perform dances that tell stories of family heroes.
United Kingdom: A Church Custom
“Mothering Sunday” falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Back in the 1700s, the day was marked by young house servants returning home to spend time with their mothers. That custom evolved from an earlier one in which families who had moved away would return to the original church they attended. Today, the holiday remains grounded in religion, with many churches handing out daffodils for children to give to Mom. Traditionally, girls also bake a fruitcake for their mothers.
France: Medals For Mom
In 1920, the government of France began awarding medals to mothers of large families in gratitude for helping rebuild the population after so many lives were lost in World War I. After the second World War, the government declared the last Sunday in May to be the Day of Mothers. The traditional gift is now a flower-shaped cake.
**We also wanted to highlight that the U.S. lags behind when it comes to maternity and/or paternity leave, and we hope for the sake of parents everywhere, this changes soon.
- Sweden: Parents can share the benefit of 80 weeks of paid leave, where they receive 80 percent of their salary for the first 65 weeks and a flat rate for the remaining 15 weeks.
- UK: Moms have a 52-week statutory maternity leave, with up to 90 percent pay for the first 39 weeks.
- Canada: New moms can take 15 weeks maternity leave and share an additional 35 weeks parental leave with the father. The first 35 weeks are paid at 55 percent of wages.
- Chile: 100 percent of pay for 30 weeks of parental leave
- Australia: 18 weeks at 100 pay
- China: 98 days at 100 percent pay
Author: Carrie Mitchell
Carrie Mitchell is the founder and content director of L’Aventure Travel. She has traveled to over 40 countries, is the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We: The Adventures of Owen and Lucy”. A writer, producer, entrepreneur, and communications strategist, Carrie is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world.