In many U.S. households, the second Sunday in May begins with breakfast in bed, a floral
bouquet, homemade cards, and other tokens of affection for Mom. Mother’s Day — America’s version, at least — has been an official holiday since 1914. In different corners of the globe, honoring Mom is a rite grounded in local traditions and customs — some ancient, some surprisingly new.

“Most cultures celebrate mothers because they are traditionally the main caregiver, which comes with great responsibility,” says Mei-Ling Hopgood, author of How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting.

Let’s take a quick trip around the world to discover how families celebrate moms in five different countries and to inspire you to consider new ideas for your mother with some “at your home” ideas.

ETHIOPIA: Sing Along!
The Antrosht festival, observed at the end of the rainy season in early fall, is dedicated to moms. After the weather clears, family members flock to their homes for a large meal and celebration. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables and cheese, while sons supply meat. Together, they prepare a meat hash and sing and perform dances that tell stories of family heroes.
At Your Home: Turn on uplifting music and share stories about all the women in your family. Go through your photo albums together, quote your ancestors and create a personal scrapbook of those special moms who came before you.

INDIA: 10-Day Festival
Hindus honor Durga, the goddess of mothers, each October during the 10-day festival known as Durga Puja. The celebration dates back to the sixteenth century and is both a religious ceremony and a family reunion. One story tells of Durga returning to her parents’ home to show off her children. Families spend weeks preparing food, gathering gifts, and decorating their homes for the festival.
At Your Home: Visit other moms you know, among friends and family, and bring home-cooked goods to share.

JAPAN: The Right Flowers                                                                                                                                                      Following World War II, a version of Mother’s Day grew popular as a way of comforting mothers who had lost sons to the war. Carnations are popular around the March holiday, as they symbolize the sweetness and endurance of motherhood in Japanese culture. Originally, children gave a red carnation to a living mother and displayed a white one if their mother had died. Now, white has become the traditional color.
At Your Home: Thank the moms in your community who help your family by writing notes of gratitude. Tie the notes to white carnations and leave the flowers on their doorsteps.

“Mothering Sunday” is the fourth Sunday of Lent. In the 1700s, the day was marked by young house servants returning home to spend time with their mothers. That custom evolved from an earlier one in which families who had moved away would return to the original church they attended. Today, the holiday remains grounded in religion, with many churches handing out daffodils for children to give to mom. Traditionally, girls also bake a fruitcake for their mothers.
At Your Home: Ask your family to celebrate you on Mother’s Day by launching a new tradition based on one from your childhood.

FRANCE: Medals For Mom
In 1920, the government of France began awarding medals to mothers of large families in gratitude for helping rebuild the population after so many lives died in World War I. After the Second World War, the government declared the last Sunday in May to be the Day of Mothers. The traditional gift is now a flower-shaped cake.
At Your Home: Expressing gratitude never goes
out of style—especially when you are demonstrating ways to express it to your children. Share your thankfulness for each family member at dinner and ask each to do the same.

Laura Amann is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago.