Mother’s Day In France traditions + Dates for 200+ countries around the world

What day is mother’s day? Is it on the second Sunday or the last Sunday of May? Are you sure Mother’s Day is even in May? Surprise! Mother’s day is celebrated on all those days, depending on what part of the world you ask. Here’s a list of all the mother’s day dates celebrated around the world.

When Is Mothers day in France?

mom (Annie Andre) and daughter in La Garde France with sign stating that mothers day is on the last Sunday of May

Unlike the US and Canada, Mother’s day in France is celebrated on the last Sunday of May, unless it coincides with Pentecost day, in which case Mother’s Day is moved to the first Sunday of June.

Meanwhile, the US and Canada celebrate Mothers day two weeks earlier on the second Sunday of May.

But I didn’t know that when I first moved to France. I just assumed Mother’s Day was celebrated on the same day in most countries.

When is Mother’s day in France?

  • 2022 = Sunday, May 29th, 2022
  • 2023 = Sunday, June 4th, 2023 (moved to 1st Sunday of May due to Pentecost day falling on the same day)
  • 2024 = Sunday, May 26th, 2024 
  • 2025 = Sunday, May 25th, 2025

My First Mothers Day In France (or was it?)

On the Friday before what I thought was Mother’s day in France, I expected my preschooler to come home with at minimum a handcrafted Mother’s day gift. To my surprise, she came home empty-handed.

No card, no drawing, not even one of those macaroni necklaces.

No big deal, I thought.

“Maybe kids in France don’t make handmade gifts at school for mother’s day, just like it’s not customary for kids to pass out Valentine’s day cards in class on Valentine’s day.”

I thought in the least that flower shops in France would have special mothers day bouquets. Nope, nothing. It looked like any other Sunday in France. Oh well.

I didn’t give it a second thought.

Two weeks later: On the last Sunday of May

Happy mothers day in French, written on piece of paper next to red tulips and heart shape box of chocolates

To my surprise, two weeks later, on the last Sunday of May, my daughter marched into our kitchen and blurted, very proudly,  “Maman, Bonne fête des mères. J’ai un Cadeau pour toi!” which meansMommy, happy mothers’ day, I have a present for you.” 

How to say happy Mothers day in French! Bonne fête des mères! /Bun-FET-Day-Mare/

How to say mothers day in French? La Fête des Mères /Lah-FET-Day-Mare/

She stuck out her hand and gave me a handmade card with the words “Bonne fête des mères” (‘Happy Mother’s day), written in her scratchy preschool handwriting. All the kids in her class made cards for their mothers also. 

daughter making hear sign with her hands for mothers day in france with a bouquet of flowers, card and apple tarte

Flower shops were abuzz with special Mother’s day bouquets; restaurants had special mother’s day meals, which required a reservation. Overall, Mother’s day in France is celebrated much like it’s celebrated in North America, and world order was restored. 

Origins of Mothers day

Many historians believe some aspects of modern Mother’s Day can be traced back to the ancient Greeks in an annual spring festival to honour Rhéa, “Mother of Gods,” goddess of nature and fertility. To honour her, they offered flowers, garlands and fruit offerings. Rhea is closely associated with the Roman mother goddess called Cybele.

The Mother’s day we celebrate today in the western world has more recent roots. It originally began as a women’s movement to better the lives of other women.

Anna Reeves Jarvis (1864-1948) of Philadelphia is most often credited with founding Mother’s Day. Jarvis dedicated her life to establishing Mother’s Day to “honour all mothers and continue the charity work her late mother started.

As a result of her efforts, the first mother’s day was observed on May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which is now the location of the International Mother’s Day Museum. 

Within five years, almost every state observed Mothers day in the US, and in 1914 president Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.

Mothers day becomes official newspaper clipping 1914

The holiday quickly became a commercialized. What had initially started as a day to honour mothers became associated with sending cards and giving flowers and gifts. Anna Jarvis hated the over-commercialized nature of what mothers day had become. 

Mothers day in France

Poster of Journée natoinale des mères de familles nombreuses

Inspired by American Mother’s day, French mothers were honoured and encouraged to have many children to repopulate France. The day was called “national day of mothers of large families” (journée nationale des mères de families nombreuses). Emile Zola popularized this movement and in 1906, in a small village called Artas, 2 mothers of 9 children were awarded the prize for “High maternal merit”.

1906 national day of mothers of large families

The first official mothers day celebration in France as we know it today occurred on April 20, 1926. 

Dates and list of all countries that celebrate some form of Mothers Day Around The World

France isn’t the only country that celebrates mother’s on the last Sunday of May. 

There are actually over 30 different Mother’s Day dates around the world; not all of those days are called Mother’s Day; for instance, in the UK and Ireland, it’s called “Mothering day.” 

Here’s a complete breakdown of countries that celebrate some form of mothers’ day grouped by date.

Mothers day dates around the world grouped by date

Second Sunday of May:

(103 countries celebrate Mothers Day on this date)

  • Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Australia, Austria,
  • Barbuda, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Barbuda, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bonaire, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei
  • Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Central Africa, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech 
  • Denmark, Dominica
  • Ecuador, Equatorial, Estonia, Ethiopia
  • Faroe, Fiji, Finland
  • Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guyana
  • Honduras, Hong
  • Iceland, India, Italy
  • Jamaica, Japan
  • Kenya, Kitts, Kong
  • Lanka, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lucia
  • Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Myanmar, Namibia
  • Netherlands, Nevis
  • Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico
  • Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland
  • Taiwan, Tanzania, Tobago, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey
  • Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay
  • Venezuela, Vietnam, Vincent
  • Zambia, Zealand, Zimbabwe

Mothers day dates map grouped by month

21st of March Spring Equinox

( 21 countries)

  • Arabia, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen,

1st Sunday of May

(8 countries)

  • Angola, Cape, Verde, Hungary, Lithuania, Mozambique, Portugal, and Spain.

last Sunday of May

(14 countries )

If Mother’s day falls on Pentecost day, Mother’s day is moved to the first Sunday of June. 

  • Algeria, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, France, French Antilles, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Haiti, Mauritius, Senegal, Sweden, Tunisia

8th of March “International Woman’s Day.”

(21 countries)

  • Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Burkina, Faso, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Laos, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Fourth Sunday of Lent, “Mothering Sunday”

(7 countries)

Lent is usually in March. 

  • Guernsey, Ireland, Isle Of Man, Man, Jersey, Nigeria, United Kingdom

August 15

(1 country and 1 city)

  • August 15 is also Assomption Mary day. 
  • Costa Rica
  • Antwerp (Belgium). The rest of Belgium celebrates on the second Sunday of May. 

26 other Mothers day dates around the world

  1. Norway: 2nd Sunday of Feb
  2. Georgia: 3rd of March
  3. Slovenia: 25th of March
  4. Armenia: 7th of April
  5. South Korea: on the 8th of May
  6. El Salvador: on 10th  May
  7. Benin: 14th of May
  8. Paraguay: 15 of May
  9. Kyrgyzstan (Russian): 19th of May
  10. Israel: 22nd of May
  11. Poland: 26th of May
  12. Bolivia: 27th of May
  13. Nicaragua: 30th of May
  14. Mongolia: 1st of June
  15. Luxembourg: 2nd Sunday of June
  16. South Sudan: 1st Monday of July
  17. Thailand: 2nd August
  18. Belarus: 14th Octobre
  19. Malawi: 15th of October
  20. Argentina: 3rd Sunday of October
  21. Timor Leste: 3rd of November,
  22. North Korea: 16th of November,
  23. Russia: Last Sunday of November
  24. Panama: 8th of December,
  25. Indonesia: 22nd of December
  26. India: Two different people from India told me that the concept of celebrating on the 2nd Sunday of may is slowly catching on, but some Hindu people celebrate mothers in a festival called Durga Puja, which is a ten-day celebration in October.

Mothers are important around the world. 

Regardless of the date or what the people of a country call this day dedicated to mothers, the spirit of the celebrations is usually the same or similar—to honour the mother (or female) of the family, motherhood, the maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

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Source of mothers day dates around the world.

Photo of Annie André:

Annie André

About the author 

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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  1. Hey Annie

    I get confused when I hear people talking about Mother’s Day in May!

    You mentioned that it’s in May in the UK but Mothering Sunday is on the fourth Sunday of Lent so usually in March or early April.

    Certainly confusing if it’s not celebrated when you expect it to be!

    Thank goodness I didn’t forget it this year :-).

    1. OOOPS Tim, I fixed that snafu. I meant to put the fourth sunday of Lent for Ireland, UK and Niger.

      It really is confusing though isn’t it. I had to make an excel spread sheet to organize them all.

      I wonder if there is an app for all the mothers days?

  2. Ah, another day I would have screwed up had I been in another country too Annie. I mean if you’re use to celebrating it on a specific day and have all your life then I would go with that day for sure.

    That’s really cool though that pretty much every country celebrates this special day. I mean Mom’s are the hardest working people in the entire world. I applaud you all for everything you do for your family. I know that my Mom is special.

    Thanks for another bit of history here. Loved learning this and glad you had a great Mother’s Day! Or if it’s still to be celebrated at the end of this month!


    1. I choose to celebrate both Adrienne. We still celebrate our customs from our own country while partaking in the new countries holidays too. It’s one of the fringe benefits. :)

  3. Hi Annie,

    Yes indeed, it IS rather confusing as to when Mother’s Day is celebrated :)

    I too had to look it up and found that it’s literally celebrated every month, depending on the country you are looking for – though it’s mainly celebrated in the US and a few more, commonly on 12th May, including ours.

    So, here’s wishing you a very Happy Mother’s Day! More than that, I do believe that every single day should be celebrated as a Mother’s or Father’s day – isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead :)

    1. So true Harleea, mothers and fathers should be celebrated everyday but I think it’s nice to have one special day where we (the person being celebrated) gets to relax and take a day off.

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