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Mother’s Day is a cherished holiday that transcends borders, cultures, and generations. In the United States, it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, while in Haiti it is celebrated on the last Sunday of May. It represents a day to honor the remarkable women who have shaped our lives—the mothers, grandmothers, and motherly figures who have left an indelible mark on our hearts.

In this blog post, we dive into the history and traditions of U.S. and Haitian Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day

Origins and Traditions of Mother’s Day

The American incarnation of Mother’s Day owes its existence to Anna Jarvis, a passionate advocate for recognizing the contributions of mothers. In 1908, she organized the first official Mother’s Day service at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her vision was to create a day of worship and appreciation for mothers, and her efforts bore fruit when President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914.

Observances include heartfelt cards, gifts, and church services accompanied by the distribution of carnations—a symbol of love and admiration. Families gather for special dinners, celebrating the matriarchs who have shaped their lives. The white carnation, chosen by Anna Jarvis, represents the purity of a mother’s love.

A Day of Joyous Festivities in Haiti

In Haiti, Mother’s Day (Fête des Mères) holds deep cultural significance. Celebrated on the last Sunday of May, it coincides closely with Haitian Heritage Month in the United States. Haitian women, often the linchpins of families and communities, are honored through morning church services filled with heartfelt prayers and hymns.

Children express their love by handcrafting gifts and cards in Haitian Creole, reinforcing familial bonds. The celebration spills into homes and streets, marked by vibrant gatherings. Food plays a central role, with families preparing traditional Haitian dishes—a testament to the nation’s rich culinary heritage. Music, dance, and cultural performances add to the festivities, celebrating both maternal pride and national identity.

The Red Flower Symbol

A unique Haitian tradition is the wearing of a red flower, symbolizing love and respect for mothers. This vivid celebration extends beyond Haiti’s borders, particularly in Haitian American communities. Children and adults proudly wear the red flower, paying homage to the maternal figures shaping their lives.

Haitian women have historically played crucial roles within their families and broader communities. Their contributions extend beyond the home, impacting all Nation’s sectors. On this special day, we recognize their resilience, compassion, and commitment to their families and society.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States and Haiti, we honor the women who have nurtured us, guided us, and left an enduring legacy of love and strength.