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10 Other Mother’s Days from Around the World

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After her mother passed away in 1905, Anna Jarvis resolved to dedicate a day to her mother, and mothers everywhere. Little did she know, and evidently much to her chagrin, Mother’s Day fast became a commercial phenomenon. Its popularity spread worldwide and many countries, particularly in the Western world, adopted the second Sunday in May as their official Mother’s Day. But not every nation followed suit—perhaps to the chagrin of their local flower companies. In fact, Mother’s Day in many countries has little or nothing to do with Anna Jarvis’s creation, nor does it always occur in May. These are just a few of those other Mother’s Days.

1. UK // MOTHERING SUNDAY, FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

The name may sound strikingly similar to its American counterpart, but the origins of Mothering Sunday are quite different. By most historical accounts, it was the Church of England that created Mothering Sunday to honor the mothers of England, and later to commemorate the “Mother Church” in all its spiritual nurturing glory. Hundreds of years ago, Christians were expected to make at least one return to their mother church each year. In other words, Mothering Sunday was the ultimate guilt trip to visit the woman or entity that gave them life. Was that so much to ask? The fourth Sunday of Lent became the designated day to make this journey, and remains the go-to holiday to celebrate Moms to this day.

2. THAILAND // MOTHER'S DAY, AUGUST 12

Her Majesty Sirikit the Queen of Thailand is also considered the mother of all her Thai subjects. In light of her royal maternal status, the Thai government made her birthday, August 12, Thailand’s official Mother’s Day in 1976. It remains a national holiday, celebrated countrywide with fireworks and candle-lighting. In related holidays, Father’s Day in Thailand falls on the current King’s birthday, December 5.

3. BOLIVIA // MOTHER'S DAY, MAY 27

During the struggle for independence from Spain in the early 19th century, many of the country's fathers, sons, and husbands were injured and killed on the battlefields. As the history is told to Bolivian students, one group of women from Cochabamba refused to stand idly by; on May 27, they banded together to fight the Spanish Army on Coronilla Hill. Though hundreds died in battle, the legacy of their contributions lives on thanks to a national law passed in the 1920s making the day on which the “Heroinas of Coronilla” took to the streets national Mother’s Day.

4. INDONESIA// MOTHER'S DAY OR WOMEN'S DAY, DECEMBER 22

Made official in 1953 by its president, Indonesia's Mother’s Day falls on the anniversary of the First Indonesian Women’s Congress (1928). The first convening of women in a governmental body is still considered pivotal in launching organized women’s movements throughout Indonesia. The holiday was created to celebrate the contributions of women to Indonesian society.

5. MIDDLE EAST (VARIOUS) // MOTHER'S DAY OR SPRING EQUINOX, MARCH 21

Egyptian journalist Mustafa Amin introduced the idea of a Mother’s Day to his home country, and it quickly spread throughout much of the region. Inspired by a story of a thankless widow ignored by an ungrateful son, Amin and his brother Ali successfully proposed a day in Egypt to honor all mothers. They decided the first day of spring, March 21, was most appropriate to celebrate the ultimate givers of life. It was first celebrated in Egypt in 1956, and is still observed throughout the region from Bahrain to the United Arab Emirates to Iraq.

6. NEPAL // MOTHER PILGRIMAGE FORTNIGHT OR MATA TIRTHA SNAN, LAST DAY OF THE MAISHAKH MONTH (USUALLY BETWEEN LATE APRIL AND EARLY MAY)

Stemming from an ancient Hindu tradition, this festival of honoring mothers is still commonly celebrated in Nepal. The holiday honors both the living and the dead equally. Traditionally, those honoring mothers who have passed away make a pilgrimage to the Mata Tirtha ponds near Kathmandu. A large carnival is also held in the Mata Tirtha village. Children show their mothers appreciation with sweets and gifts.

7. ISRAEL // FAMILY DAY OR THE HOLIDAY FORMERLY KNOWN AS MOTHER'S DAY, 30TH DAY OF SHEVAT (USUALLY FEBRUARY)

Henrietta Szold never had any children of her own, but that didn’t stop her from touching the lives of many young ones. Szold played an active role in the Youth Aliya organization, through which she helped protect many Jewish children from the horrors of the Holocaust. This earned her a reputation as the “mother” of all children. In the 1950s, an 11-year-old girl named Nechama Biedermann wrote to the children’s publication Haaretz Shelanu proposing they make the date of Szold’s death Israel’s national Mother’s Day. The newspaper readily agreed, as did the rest of the country. Despite the shift to a more gender-balanced Family Day, the holiday’s popularity has waned over the years.

8. ETHIOPIA // MOTHER'S DAY OR ANTROSHT, WHEN THE RAINY SEASON ENDS (OCTOBER/NOVEMBER)

Rather than tying themselves down to a specific date, Ethiopians wait out the wet season then trek home for a large, three-day family celebration. This feast is known as “Antrosht.” Unlike some western Mother’s Days, the mother plays a key role in preparing the traditional meals for the festival.

9. FRANCE // MOTHER'S DAY OR FÊTE DES MÈRES, LAST SUNDAY IN MAY

Celebrating a few Sundays later than the rest of the world feels so, well, French. However, according to one blogger, they may have beat all of us to the punch—sort of. France has a storied history of attempts to create a national Mother’s Day. Napoleon tried to mandate a national maternal holiday at the turn of the 19th century. But things ended up not working out so well for him and his holiday. More than a century later, Lyon held its own Mother’s Day celebration to honor women who lost sons to the First World War. It was not until May 24, 1950 that the Fête des Mères became an officially decreed holiday.

(The holiday is mandated to occur on the last Sunday in May. However, if that Sunday is also the Pentecost, then Mother’s Day is pushed to the first Sunday in June.)

10. NICARAGUA // MOTHER'S DAY OR DÍA DE MADRE, MAY 30

In the 1940s, President General Anastasio Somoza Garcia declared Mother’s Day in honor of the birthday of his mother-in-law. Despite its brown-nosing origins, it remains a big deal in Nicaragua.

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What's the Story Behind Cinco de Mayo?
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Cinco de Mayo, or May 5, is recognized around the country as a time to celebrate Mexico’s cultural heritage. Like a lot of days earmarked to commemorate a specific idea or event, its origins can be a little murky. Who started it, and why?

The holiday was originally set aside to commemorate Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The two had gotten into a dispute after newly-elected Mexico president Benito Juárez tried to help ease the country’s financial woes by defaulting on European loans. Unmoved by their plight, France attempted to seize control of their land. The Napoleon III-led country sent 6000 troops to Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town en route to Mexico City, and anticipated an easy victory.

After an entire day of battle that saw 2000 Mexican soldiers take 500 enemy lives against only 100 casualties, France retreated. That May 5, Mexico had proven itself to be a formidable and durable opponent. (The victory would be short-lived, as the French would eventually conquer Mexico City. In 1866, Mexican and U.S. forces were able to drive them out.)

To celebrate, Juárez declared May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, to be a national holiday. Puebla began acknowledging the date, with recognition spreading throughout Mexico and in the Latino population of California, which celebrated victory over the same kind of oppressive regime facing minorities in Civil War-era America. In fact, University of California at Los Angeles professor David Hayes-Bautista cites his research into newspapers of the era as evidence that Cinco de Mayo really took off in the U.S. due to the parallels between the Confederacy and the monarchy Napoleon III had planned to install.

Cinco de Mayo gained greater visibility in the U.S. in the middle part of the 20th century thanks to the Good Neighbor Policy, a political movement promoted by Franklin Roosevelt beginning in 1933, which encouraged friendly relations between countries.  

There’s a difference between a day of remembrance and a corporate clothesline, however. Cinco de Mayo was co-opted for the latter beginning in the 1970s, when beer and liquor companies decided to promote consumption of their products while enjoying the party atmosphere of the date—hence the flowing margaritas. And while it may surprise some Americans, Cinco de Mayo isn’t quite as big a deal in Mexico as it can be in the States. While Mexican citizens recognize it, it’s not a federal holiday: Celebrants can still get to post offices and banks. 

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Star Wars Day
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It's always appropriate to celebrate your love of Star Wars, and that goes double every May 4, which has become known as Star Wars Day over the last few years (for the pun fans out there, the proper greeting is "May the Fourth Be With You").

So what do you do on Star Wars Day? Well, you’re only limited by your own imagination. You can enjoy everything from official events held by Disney to independent organizations, stores, and sports teams getting in on the fun. Then there are all the festivities you can throw on your own for you and your Star Wars-loving friends. To prepare for your own May the Fourth activities, here are 10 fun ways to celebrate Star Wars Day.

1. REWATCH THE ENTIRE SAGA.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens on a movie theater marquee
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With all of the events, cosplay, merchandise, and other celebrations, it's easy to forget the most important part about Star Wars Day: the movies. And if you don't own the saga yourself, you're in luck because TBS will be playing all the installments from The Phantom Menace through The Force Awakens in order (so, excluding Rogue One and The Last Jedi), starting at 2:30 a.m. and going until 11 p.m. on May 4. Of course you can always splurge on all the DVDs, Blu-rays, or digital copies and set up shop at home for the better part of 20 hours across nine movies.

2. COOK UP SOME STAR WARS RECIPES.

If you're going to sit through an all-day Star Wars binge, you won't be able to do it on an empty stomach. Prepare for your May the Fourth marathon with some themed recipes, like these Darth Maul waffles (which you can wash down with some blue milk), Jabbacado toast, porg puffs, or Imperial nachos.

3. EXPLORE YOUR CRAFTY SIDE.

If you need to do something with your hands instead of just feeding yourself while binging movies, there are more than enough crafty projects to either spruce up your living room with some homemade Skywalker décor or make a gift for that Star Wars superfan in your life.

You can make a unique costume modeled on your favorite character, create your own bookmark, try your hand at some TIE Fighter art, paint a Jawa picture frame with the kids, or make a personalized gift for Mother's and Father's Day. There's really no limit to what you can do—and if you run out of ideas, there are plenty of online resources and books to help stimulate your creative side.

4. ADD A LEGO Y-WING TO YOUR COLLECTION.

Star Wars Day is about more than just getting deals on pre-existing merchandise—it's also about the debut of brand new collectibles that you've never been able to get your hands on. And the biggest one coming out this May 4 is LEGO's new Ultimate Collector Series Y-WING.

Measuring in at two feet long and containing an impressive 1967 pieces, this massive starfighter is just like the one fans saw make the assault on the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope. The set also comes with a Gold Leader minifigure (complete with blaster) and an R2-BHD droid, because everyone knows any starfighter worth its salt needs an astromech aboard. If you want one for yourself, the UCS Y-Wing will set you back $199.

5. CHECK YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY, MUSEUM, AND ZOO.

There's a good chance that a local institution in your community is jumping on the Star Wars bandwagon with activities aimed at fans of any age.

If you're in New York City on Star Wars Day, the public library system will have events at branches throughout the city on May 4—just call ahead for information and availability. Various zoos, including the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida, the El Paso Zoo in Texas, and Oklahoma's OKC Zoo will all have themed events, such as character meet and greets, costume contests, or games and activities for kids. And the Boston Children's Museum will have activities—including Star Wars yoga—from May 4 through Sunday May 6.

These are far from the only local events you can partake in—cities all over the world are looking to take advantage of May 4 to bring people together for special activities to enjoy. Do a little digging and see what your local parks, museums, malls, and zoos are doing to celebrate all things Star Wars.

6. ENJOY STAR WARS NIGHT AT THE BALLPARK.

Star Wars Day at an MLB ballpark.
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If you're at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, or SunTrust ballpark in Atlanta on May 4, you can snag special bobbleheads of one of the team's standout players in Star Wars garb. Then on May 5 (sometimes known as "Revenge of the Fifth"), the Washington Nationals are holding their own celebration, complete with photo ops with your favorite characters and themed food and drink specials.

But the force can be with you even if it isn't the fourth. The Baltimore Orioles are holding a Star Wars Night on May 11, complete with a Darren "O'Day-Wan" Kenobi bobblehead, followed by the New York Mets on May 19, where the first 25,000 fans will get a special Mr. Met Star Wars bobblehead. There are even more Star Wars-themed nights throughout the season all around the league, all the way into August and September.

7. GET A FREE STAR WARS COMIC BOOK.

Han Solo frozen in carbonite
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It just so happens that Star Wars Day and Free Comic Book Day are back-to-back this year, so when you head down to your local comic shop on May 5 to score your haul of freebies, be sure to pick up the special issue of Star Wars Adventures, put out by publisher IDW.

While Marvel has the license to publish Star Wars comics, IDW is handling the Adventures book, which is aimed at younger readers (though adult fans will still enjoy them). The story in this issue—which will be continued in Star Wars Adventures #10 and #11—will focus on a young Han Solo and Chewbacca, in preparation for the May 25 release of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

8. LEGOLAND STAR WARS DAYS.

LEGO Darth Vader sculpture at LEGOLAND.
Kevin Baird, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sure it's the day after the official Star Wars Day, but if you're in LEGOLAND in Florida on May 5-6, or either of the two weekends after, you can experience LEGO's ode to the blockbuster movie franchise. For the park's LEGO Star Wars Days event, you'll be able to take part in building activities, cosplay (with a chance to win prizes), and see the latest addition to MINILAND with a Force Awakens display. This display is made up of thousands of LEGO bricks and will recreate memorable moments from the movie.

9. SALES! SALES! SALES!

Star Wars action figures.
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You don't even have to leave your computer to enjoy May the Fourth. There are plenty of retailers that are giving out deep discounts on Star Wars merchandise like action figures, movies, clothing, home décor, kitchen accessories, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. The Star Wars website has a direct hub for the biggest sales, and then there's the highly anticipated Think Geek Star Wars Day sale, which is usually among the best.

10. ENJOY THE MUSIC.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir performing the Star Wars scores.
Leon Neal, AFP/Getty Images

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a day off to watch the Star Wars movies, make crafts, and take advantage of sales. If you're stuck at work on May the Fourth, though, you can still celebrate the music of Star Wars while you're at your computer or during your commute. Just pop some headphones in and stream one (or all) of John Williams's memorable scores from the saga. They're all easy to find on the major music services, and surely listening to the Cantina Band song in the afternoon will get you pumped for happy hour.

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