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Mother's Day and Muttertag

The history of mom's holiday in Germany

Although the idea of honoring mothers on a special day was known as far back as ancient Greece, today Mother's Day is celebrated in many countries, in many different ways, and on different dates.

In Austria, Germany, and Switzerland Muttertag is observed on the second Sunday in May, just as in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan, and many other countries. During the First World War, Switzerland was one the first European countries to introduce Mother's Day (in 1917). Germany's first Muttertag observance took place in 1922, Austria's in 1926 (or 1924, depending on the source).

Muttertag was first declared an official German holiday in 1933 (the second Sunday in May) and took on a special significance as part of the Nazi motherhood cult under the Hitler regime. There was even a medal— das Mutterkreuz —in bronze, silver, and gold (eight or more Kinder !), awarded to mothers who produced children for the Vaterland . (The medal had the popular nickname of "Karnickelorden," the "Order of the Rabbit.")

After World War II the German holiday became a more unofficial one that took on the cards-and-flowers elements of the U.S. Mother's Day. In Germany, if Mother's Day happens to fall on Pfingstsonntag (Pentecost), the holiday is moved to the first Sunday in May.




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Last updated April 26, 2005