Everything you need to know about Mother's Day in Spain

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Everything you need to know about Mother's Day in Spain
Here's what Mother's Day is all about in Spain. Photo: Xavier Mouton Photographie/Unsplash

Here's how and when in May Mother's Day is celebrated in Spain, and why it owes its roots to religion and a Valencian poet.


This year, Mother's Day (El Día de la Madre) is celebrated in Spain on Sunday May 5th. It's always celebrated on the first Sunday of the month of May.

On this day, young children in Spain give their mothers manualidades (crafts) they've made at school as a token of their love.

Husbands and older sons and daughters may buy their wives/mothers a present to say thanks for all that they do as matriarchs, which usually takes the form of a detalle (smaller present than for a birthday or Christmas), and will come accompanied by a message such as te quiero, mamá (I love you, mum).


According to experiences website Aladinia, the average Spaniards spends €65 on gifts on Mother's Day. 

Other mums may send out text messages to wish each other ¡Feliz Día de la Madre! (Happy Mother's Day!).

As it's always celebrated on a Sunday, many shops will be closed but you can expect plenty of restaurants to be open for lunch and perhaps dinner. 

Depending where you're from, the first Sunday of May may or may not be when you're used to celebrating Mother's Day in your home country.

Around the world over 100 countries celebrate Mother's Day (or Mothering Sunday, more on the difference below) - 77 in May, 13 in March, and 14 at other times during the year.

Some countries, like the UK, celebrate Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday during Lent, meaning that the date changes each year. This is because Mothering Sunday was originally a Christian holiday in some European countries.

READ ALSO: How a female teacher campaigned for Spain to have a Father's Day

Spain, however, celebrates Mother's Day on the first Sunday in May each year, meaning that it doesn't have a fixed date either. But it wasn't always like that.


The history of Mother's Day in Spain

The first Mother's Day in Spain was celebrated in Madrid all the way back on October 4th, 1926. Much of the impetus for establishing a day to celebrate mothers came, rather fittingly, from a poet.

Julio Menéndez García, a Valencian poet and public servant, pushed for a special day to celebrate mothers. Spanish newspaper La Libertad published a short section on Garcìa's efforts in October 1925:

"A Levantine poet, Julio Menéndez García, has had the happy initiative that in Spain and in the Spanish-speaking nations a day should be consecrated to extol the love of mothers. The establishment of Mother's Day is something tender and sympathetic, which deserves to be welcomed by governments, the press and public opinion, as it involves the highest tribute to women in their most august representation."

After the Civil War, the church moved the date to December 8th to coincide with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a key holiday among Catholics. 

Civil War-era poster urging Madrid mothers to leave the Spanish capital with their children before the arrival of Franco's troops. (Photo by AFP)

But it wasn't until 1965 that Mother's Day was celebrated in May in Spain. The reason for this change of date was to separate the celebrations (both were considered important enough to have their own day) but also the influence of other countries, namely the United States.

The campaign for a Mother's Day was originally started by Anna Jarvis, an American wanting to honour her mother, in 1908. By 1914, US President Woodrow Wilson officially signed it into law, establishing a May date. 

However, for many years in Spain department store El Corte Inglés maintained the date of 8th December, meaning that Spain Mother's Day was celebrated twice a year for a while, commercially speaking at least.

In 1936 a local council in Breña Baja, on the Canary island of La Palma, became the first in Spain to move Mother's Day to May.

However, in 1965 the church authorities officially decided to move Mother's Day to May, a month consecrated to the Virgin Mary. May is also the month of female gods in the classical world, and in Catholicism is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Interestingly, Jarvis herself later campaigned against the day, arguing it had become overly commercialised, something Spaniards often bemoan about other imported American customs like Halloween and Valentine's Day. 

READ ALSO: How a female teacher campaigned for Spain to have a Father's Day


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HP 2024/05/03 18:10
In the USA, Mother's Day is the *second* Sunday in May.

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