Mother’s Day is one of the few days of celebration that’s almost universal across all cultures. Throughout all walks of life around the world, mothers are appreciated and recognised, even if it isn’t on the same day for every nation. But how else do they differ aside from just falling on a different day on the calendar? Here’s a quick snapshot of how a couple of other countries do things.

Japan

Oddly, Japan has the most “ordinary” customs on this list. It’s often assumed that Japan is always somewhat zany, but their version of Mother’s Day is actually rather sweet and subdued. Across the country, children will draw illustrations of their mother, all of which are entered into exhibitions for everyone to admire. The winning drawings are toured across the country and are even featured in special exhibits abroad. It’s also not the norm to take mother’s out for a meal, but instead for sons and daughters to cook dishes that were taught to them directly by their deal old mums. It’s a nice way to make the whole thing feel more special and personal. On this day (known as “Haha no Hi”), red or white carnations are a must. Other gifts may also be presented, but in Japan, this specific flower is tied to this day, on the second Sunday of May.

Ethiopia

It’s rare to hear mentions of Ethiopia on lists like this, making their noteworthy version of Mother’s Day all the more interesting. Instead of sticking to the standard fare of one day, the people of Ethiopia celebrate their mothers over three days, coinciding with the end of the rainy season in the middle of autumn, when they indulge in a large feast known as “Antrosht”. A traditional hash meal is whipped up, as a combined effort of all the family. Daughters are assigned the task of bringing vegetables, butter, spices and cheese, whilst the sons have the job of supplying the meat, usually lamb or bull. The mother then offers out the hash to her family, and the rest of the time is spent with all the family singing and dancing together. Various stories about the family are told at these feasts, with obvious emphasis and regard to the matriarch. Out of all the Mother’s Day traditions, this one is most possibly the most extensive and involved.

Mexico

Possibly the most enthusiastic people when it comes to Mother’s Day are Mexicans – they go all out. Getting ahead of themselves, they’ll often prepare a Mother’s Day eve dinner, seemingly unable to wait any longer. At the second dawn breaks, sons and daughters will gather around mum to gently wake her with a song. Of course, this doesn’t seem like enough for some of them, occasionally opting to hire a mariachi band to serenade their mothers from outside their window instead. Early in the morning, whole towns can already begin to sound like a lively festival. Akin to the “happy birthday song”, or various Christmas carols, Mexico has their own song for Mother’s Day: "Las Mañanitas". Aside from just singing this in a cappella form beside a bed, or by a trio on the doorstep, communities will additionally gather at the local church for mass to sing this song to the Virgin Mary. Once all the singing has been wrapped up, the children get right onto preparing an elaborate breakfast, before showering their beloved maternal figures in gifts. The rest of the day is spent relaxing and feasting with large amounts of family. "Día de las Madres" is seen as quite an important day in May, despite still not being recognised as a national holiday.

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Your version!

Everyone has different ways of celebrating family-based holidays, so each person won’t necessarily operate the same way on Mother’s Day. Just as not every person in Japan will bring carnations, you will also not necessarily follow the conventional traditions of your own home country. How do you prefer to celebrate Mother’s Day? Do you have any grand plans this year, or do your family keep it as a smaller affair? Either way, maybe you should think about incorporating some of these novel ideas from our friends overseas. It’ll spice up things for your mum this Sunday, and go a long way to showing her how much she really means to you.

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