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What are some unique Mother’s Day traditions to honor mom?

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Forget the usual flowers and greeting cards. Discover the fascinating history of Mother’s Day, from its humble beginnings to its worldwide celebration today. There’s more to this special day than just brunch – including unique ways to honor the memory of moms who have passed and how to create heartfelt traditions of your own.

Let’s first look at some of the ways families around the globe pay tribute to the remarkable women who’ve shaped our lives.

Mother’s Day traditions from around the world 

While Mother’s Day is a national holiday in the United States, it isn’t the only country that celebrates the holiday. Many countries throughout the world have their own traditions for how they recognize mothers. You could incorporate them into your traditions for a unique celebration. 


Mother’s Day is one of the biggest and busiest holidays. The traditions are similar to those in the United States, with flowers and the importance of spending time with family. A unique tradition is mariachi bands performing Las Mañanitas

United Kingdom

In the UK, Mother’s Day is still tied to its religious roots, with it being held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. However, how people celebrate the day differs greatly from its origins. Some individuals may stick with the traditions by using the day to honor the Virgin Mary. Others choose to give their mother a simnel cake.

Simnel cake
Simnel cake

These are light fruit cakes that have layers of marzipan (shown above). Candy, cards, and flowers are also popular. 


In Italy, Mother’s Day is known as La Festa della Mamma. Mothers are pampered with a day of relaxation. They aren’t allowed to cook or do chores (sign me up for this!). Family members often give homemade gifts or fresh pastries. 


While giving flowers is a similar tradition, mothers in Australia specifically get chrysanthemums, or “mums” for short. Their popularity is because mothers in Australia are called “mum,” which mirrors the flower’s name. Other traditions mirror the traditions of the United States. 

History of Mother’s Day 

The Mother’s Day holiday didn’t start out with the same traditions and focus that we know today. Looking back into ancient history, the Greeks and Romans celebrated the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele at annual festivals. In the 16th century, those living in the UK would participate in Mothering Sunday. It was held on the fourth Sunday of the Lent. The tradition was to visit your “mother church,” which was the church you were christened at or your nearest chapel or church. People would go a-mothering.

It was one of the few days during the year that servants would be given the entire day off. Children and families would join servants on their journey to their mother church. This eventually turned the day into an opportunity for family reunions. The focus shifted to individual family mothers rather than the church. 

Mother’s Day really began to take the form we know today in the United States. A woman named Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother’s work nursing soldiers during the Civil War by getting a day dedicated to honoring all mothers. Her definition of a mother was quite broad:

“…the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

–Anna Jarvis

President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday in 1914. Watch more about Anna Jarvis and the history of Mother’s Day in the U.S below.

Start new Mother’s Day traditions in your family

Honoring tradition is one way to celebrate Mother’s Day. However, it can feel a bit empty or impersonal if you don’t have a direct connection to the gifts or activities that you are doing. Instead, consider making it more meaningful to your family by starting new traditions.

How to create your own traditions

  1. Reflect: Consider what makes you and your family’s relationship with your mom unique and special. Reflect on shared interests, memorable experiences, or meaningful activities you all might enjoy. This could be anything from cooking to playing sports, creating art, going out to eat, or traveling. 
  2. Brainstorm: List out ideas for new traditions that resonate with your mom’s personality and preferences. Think outside the box and consider activities or rituals that are both meaningful and enjoyable for both of you.
  3. Personalize: Add personal touches to make the tradition truly special. Consider incorporating elements that hold sentimental value, such as favorite foods, cherished memories, or symbolic gestures.
  4. Plan: Once you have a few ideas, plan out the logistics of your new tradition. Decide on a specific activity or event, set a date and time, and make any necessary arrangements to ensure everything goes smoothly.

You could be the type of family that appreciates sticking with the familiar. Or your family could thrive on trying new things. You want something that can be a shared activity or thing that you can make memories and bond over. Don’t forget that the holiday is about mom, so your chosen tradition should be something she loves. 

Embracing all moms 

Modern families can take all forms, and with it, the image of a mom can come in many forms. It’s important to recognize all non-traditional moms who take on the role of providing unyielding love, guidance, and support. From the single moms to the stepmoms and the women who haven’t given birth but still take on the role for the children in their lives. Don’t be afraid to share your love and appreciation for all the mother-figures in your life.

Honoring mothers who have come before us 

While Mother’s Day can be a day filled with laughter and joy for some, it can also bring feelings of sadness for others. Our mothers are influential people who leave a lasting hole in our hearts when they pass away. This can make Mother’s Day especially difficult when we are reminded of the wonderful women who are no longer with us. 

Turn this potentially sad day into a touching one by celebrating and honoring the mothers who have come before us.

Thoughtful ways to celebrate a mother’s spirit

  • Try lighting a candle with a scent that reminds you of her. Scent is a powerful tool for evoking memories.
  • Reminisce by looking at pictures and videos.
  • Write a letter to your mother where you share your thoughts, feelings, and what you have been up to over the last year.
  • Spend the day doing your mom’s favorite activities. 
  • Plan a celebration with your siblings
  • Bake/cook her favorite foods
  • Visit her final resting place with flowers or her favorite things

Start your Mother’s Day traditions  

There is a reason so many countries have similar traditions when it comes to celebrating and honoring mothers. Flowers, candy, cards, and jewelry are popular gifts. Acts of service are also popular, such as cooking, baking, or cleaning.

However, how you celebrate Mother’s Day can look very different from one family to the next. The goal is to celebrate the mom in your life with a kind gesture, gift, or activity that she will appreciate the most. 

If you need help with gift ideas for Mother’s Day, have mom make a account. She can then create a wish list that gives you a roadmap to the gifts she wants the most. Remind her she can even just jot down “quality time with my family” or “dust the house” as an item on the list. With Giftster she can truly can add anything her heart desires.

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