May 6, 2022 | LIFE | By Emma McDermott | Illustration by Iris Guo

Celebrated globally, though sometimes on different days in other countries, Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the maternal figures in our lives and thank them for all they’ve done. This year, Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 8th in the United States –– that’s in two days, so mail that card, opt for expedited shipping, or bribe a younger sibling to add your name on their gift!

The day is now considered a “Hallmark holiday,” indicating the commercialization its undergone and the profits that greeting card companies make. However, I think anyone who has a mother or a maternal figure in their life finds more meaning to the day than what’s on the surface –– wherever in the world that might be.

Many American families celebrate the occasion with cards, flowers, and gifts. Hastily prepared breakfasts-in-bed are sometimes carried gingerly to mothers pretending to be asleep (and pretending to enjoy whatever concoctions their children have come up with). It’s usually a day of pampering mothers, doing their favorite activities, and giving them time to relax and be celebrated.

In Ethiopia, there’s no set date for Mother’s Day. Instead, the celebration is determined by the weather, occurring when the rainy season ends –– usually around October or November. The celebration is known as Antrosht, and children are expected to bring ingredients for a large family meal; girls collect spices and dairy products while boys provide meat, like lamb or beef. The mother prepares the meal, and the entire family takes part in the celebration, dancing and singing to celebrate traditional Ethiopian heroes.

Illustration by Iris Guo

Thailand, on the other hand, does things a little differently. Mother’s Day is celebrated annually on August 12th, the birthday of Queen Sirikit, and this is intentional. The day is meant to honor both literal and figurative mothers, and the Queen is thought of as the Mother of all Thai People, hence the date of choice. The day is celebrated with gorgeous décor and parades, and mothers are usually presented with gifts of jasmine flowers.

Nepalese families celebrate Mother’s Day in April or May, not unlike the United States. Children gift their mothers a variety of gifts, like fruit, eggs, alcohol, and milk curds at family gatherings. For those families with deceased mothers, many people trek to a special pond –– Mata Tirtha Pond –– whose waters are said to bring salvation and fruitfulness to the family.

Mother’s Day in Mexico is cause for much celebration and a big holiday. It’s so big that regardless of what day of the week the holiday falls on, it’s still the busiest day of the year for restaurants. Mothers are presented with flowers, and the day is spent celebrating with music and food, and there’s often a mariachi singing of “Las Mananitas” in the morning.

In the former Soviet Union, Mother’s Day was essentially a part of International Women’s Day on March 8th. However, in post-Soviet Russia today, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the last Sunday in November, but gifts are usually still exchanged in March.

While Mother’s Day might be dubbed a “Hallmark holiday,” its importance is clearly recognized around the globe. Mothers –– be they biological or not, “conventional” or not –– are recognized for all the work they do for their families and communities around the world, as they should be.

So, don’t forget to give your mom or anyone that’s functioned like a mom for you, really, a call this Sunday and thank them.

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