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Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: Old and New Traditions from Around the World

Mother’s Day

Muttertag takes place on the second Sunday in May (unless it falls on Pentecost, in which case it occurs on the first Sunday of the month). In Germany, the giving of Mother’s Day cards is extremely popular. During WWII, Mother’s Day traditions took on political significance as the day to acknowledge women for producing children for the Vaterland, or Fatherland. Medals were awarded in gold, silver or bronze, based upon how many children were in the household. After the war, it assumed a softer feel, with the giving of gifts, cards and flowers, as well as festive meals earmarking the day.

Another country which needs three days to fully acknowledge their mothers and the spirit of family is Serbia, where Mother’s Day takes place in December and is part of a series of holidays including Children’s Day and Father’s Day. All three holidays take place on consecutive Sundays and require lots of rope! On Children’s Day, children are tied up and must agree to behave before they are unbound. On Mother’s Day, it is the mom’s turn to be tied up, where she will remain until she supplies yummy treats and small gifts to her children. Finally, it is father’s turn. The dads are tied up with rope until they give their families Christmas gifts. At that point, everybody feasts.

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and is symbolized by beautiful carnations — which represent the gentle strength of mothers who are revered in Japanese culture. Children draw pictures of their mothers in school and sometimes enter them in art contests. Like most other countries, Mother’s Day is a day of pampering for moms. Kids help take over the household chores, have a special family meal, like sushi or eggs, and give their mothers red carnations or roses and cards.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day falls on the same day as the birthday of King Bhumbibol Adulyade, who is considered the Father of the Nation (December 5). Initially, people wore yellow and presented their dads with a canna flower which is considered to be a masculine flower. A few years a go though the tradition switched to wearing pink, inspired by the King’s rose-colored jacket.

Called Dia dos Pais, Father’s Day in Brazil is all about the meat. On the second Sun day of August, families gather together for all-you-can-eat barbeques or churrascos either at home or at a Brazilian steak house, a churrascaria.

Italy, Spain and Portugal
In these countries, Father’s Day coincides with the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19. Religious families typically go to church. Kids also make cards or buy gifts for their dads.