Mors dag – mother’s day

Although mother’s have been celebrated throughout history in various ways, the modern idea of Mother’s Day is imported from the U.S. where it was first celebrated in 1908. Mother’s day in Sweden was championed by author Cecilia Bååth-Holmberg to be the last Sunday in May when there would be flowers and greenery nearly throughout the entire country.

Mother’s day had arrived in Norway by 1918 and it migrated to Sweden by 1920 when Bååth-Holmberg provided guidelines for celebrating the day. The most important element was that all children be with their mother. In addition, the burden of housework should be alleviated, the Swedish flag should be raised, songs sung, poetry read, and prayers for forgiveness be made because a child does not always do the right thing, but there is always the promise of improvement. And, of course, coffee and cake should be served to mom in bed.

“World’s Best Mom” bakery sign

The Swedish church played a significant role in spreading the tradition of mother’s day by organizing activities for mothers and children. By the 1930s celebration of mother’s day was wide-spread throughout the country. The classic gift is a personal letter to mom, especially if you can’t be with her on mother’s day. Of course it didn’t take much time for mother’s day to become a selling point for businesses and the promotion of gifts became a focal point, much to the chagrin of the early proponents of a day that was simply intended to bring mothers together with their children.

Mamma is the Swedish equivalent to “mom” and mor is the equivalent to “mother.” Your mormor is your mother’s mother, and your farmor is your father’s mother. Of course the same kind of system applies to fathers with morfar and farfar and Fars Dag (Father’s Day) is celebrated the second Sunday in November. It’s a little confusing when you are first introduced to this naming system, but it makes a lot of sense once you get it straight. Happy mors dag (MOHRS-dahg) to all the mammas, mors, farmors and mormors!

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Categories: holidays & customs, Sweden+

Author:mbnilsson

I'm an American immigrant to Sweden as of 2008. My blog is for people who like food, Scandinavia, or just think Swedes are hot.

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7 Comments on “Mors dag – mother’s day”

  1. May 27, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    I accidently celebrated morsdag with my mother-in-law two weeks ago because I insisted that it falls on the same day as the American Mothers day! At least it is close unlike fathers day! Thank you for the brief history!

    • May 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

      You’re welcome. Worse than celebrating early, I forgot the date of the American mother’s day. Thankfully I had an incredible urge to make sure I called my parents on that day!

  2. May 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    I always thought there was the American mother’s day and the International one. But while researching for work recently, I realized that there are way too many mother’s days across the countries. Yes, I tend to live under a rock somewhere at the bottom of the deepest ocean. Happy mother’s day to all the mors!

    • May 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      It does tend to get a little complicated making sure you get all the mother’s and father’s days at the right time in the right country. But it also gives you an excuse just in case you flub up like I did this year! 😉

      • May 29, 2012 at 8:41 am #

        Haha, true that! We have always celebrated the UK and US Mother’s day at our home. Perhaps a bit unfair on dad (since we don’t do that for father’s day), but he never seemed to complain. 🙂

  3. May 29, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Good to know! I was aware that the UK celebrated it in March but that seems odd since nothing is in bloom yet. Good to know when the Swedes/Norwegians celebrate it. Also interesting that you place Father’s Day 6 months off from Mother’s Day. Is it true in Norway, also? I like that, though it would never work in the US because of Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday in November. (Our Father’s Day is the 3rd Sunday in June.)

    Anyway, hooray for Moms!

    • May 29, 2012 at 7:46 am #

      Wikipedia has a good compilation of dates for mother’s day around the world. It’s interesting to see how the date varies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother's_Day They have a similar entry for father’s day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father's_Day Part of the reason father’s day is in November here is that we don’t have many fall holidays. With the exception of Denmark having father’s day on June 5th, the rest of Scandinavia celebrates it on the second sunday in November.

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