The celebration of Mother's Day is very important around the world. Families celebrate the women in their lives who have cared for, supported, and raised them. Flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed, cards; no matter what you decide to give her, the feeling is to show thanks for her unconditional love.

But what is the origin of the celebration? How are mothers traditionally celebrated around the world?

History of Mother’s Day

Many civilisations have performed traditional rituals to celebrate the role of the mother for many years.

In its earliest incarnations, in Ancient Greece, celebrations were held to honour Rhea, the mother of gods. Later, the Roman holiday of Hilaria, a precursor to April Fools Day, was held in the name of Cybele, the Roman equivalent of Rhea. With the arrival of Christianity, the festivities were transformed to honour the Virgin Mary, mother of God.

In the UK, the tradition was to visit one's ‘mother church’ - the church they were baptised in - during Lent for a special service on Laetare Sunday. This was known as “going mothering”, and servants were given the day off to go to church with their families.

In the US, the celebration as it’s popularly known today originated during the Civil War, when activist Julia Ward Howe issued her “Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace”, envisioning a day of peace and support for women who had lost sons or husbands in the Civil War, regardless of which side they were on. Mother’s Day was made a national holiday in the US in 1914, assigned the second Sunday in May, after a campaign by Anna Jarvis, whose own mother had worked alongside Julia Ward Howe.

When is Mother’s Day celebrated?

Mother’s Day is celebrated on different dates, depending on the country. A large number of countries celebrate on the second Sunday in May, as stated in the US proclamation. Some countries have a fixed date of 10th May, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Malaysia and Singapore. It’s celebrated later in the year in Argentina (the third Sunday in October), Panama (8th December), and Indonesia (22nd December). Some countries have chosen to have Mother’s Day coincide with another holiday, International Women's Day, on 8th March. In the UK, Mothering Sunday is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, as it has been since the Middle Ages.

Mother’s Day traditions

In Mexico, mothers are serenaded by their children, or by mariachis who will sing requested songs. Traditionally, children will sing "Las Mañanitas" and the song "Amor de Madre".

In Peru, Mother’s Day is a day of remembrance for those mothers who are no longer with us. Families gather in cemeteries to lay flowers and share meals to honour them.

Carnations, with many varied meanings depending on the colour or variety, are the traditional gift for mothers in Japan.

Mother’s Day is a national holiday in Bolivia, with strong historical significance. On 27th may 1812, a group of women sacrificed themselves by confronting the Spanish army in an attempt to win freedom for their country. They are commemorated with parades and tributes.

The Colombian tradition revolves around meetings with food, be it breakfast or lunch or a special dinner with family. These meetings are generally accompanied by serenades or concerts of all kinds of music, from boleros to more traditional music from different regions of Colombia.

In Brazil, “Dia das Mães” is very popular - commercially, it’s the second-biggest celebration in the country.

Gift ideas for Mother’s Day

On this special day, show your gratitude to your mother with a gift. Flowers and chocolates are traditional gifts for Mother’s Day, but we’ve come up with some more suggestions:

Make her breakfast in bed

Go for a walk or a tour of your city

Make a scrapbook with family photos

Buy tickets to her favorite artist’s concert

Sing karaoke at full volume together

Pay for a family photo shoot

If you’re away from home, it’s easy to arrange a gift to be sent when visiting isn’t an option. We have some suggestions for gifts you can send when you can’t be with your mother for Mother’s Day:

Flower or balloon arrangements: There are several online stores where you can order a flower or balloon arrangement with a personalised card

Sweets, chocolates, cookies, cakes: Whether your mother’s favorite sweets are chocolates or cookies, there are stores that ship specially decorated boxes for the day

Photographs or videos: if you plan ahead, you can send her an album or photo book of the whole family.

Gift certificates: If your mother has a favorite store, find out online if they have digital gift certificates that you can email her

Make her a playlist: You can choose all the songs that your mother has always liked and make a playlist  she can play on her phone and computer

It’s also easy to send money home with WorldRemit, so if you can’t decide on a gift, she can get something she’s been wanting.

At WorldRemit we help you make international money transfers quickly, easily and conveniently. Sign up in seconds to send money straight away.

No matter where you are, we want to help you celebrate Mother's Day in a special way

Send your mother a gift with WorldRemit