Mother’s Day in Switzerland: How the Swiss celebrate motherhood

Mother’s Day in Switzerland: How the Swiss celebrate motherhood

by Leona Quigley

Updated July 28, 2023

Like many countries the world over, Switzerland dedicates a day each year to celebrating mothers and mothering figures. Since ​​Switzerland first celebrated Mother’s Day in 1917, the holiday has grown into a time-honored tradition meant to show appreciation for the love and care mothers give to their families.

Today, Mother’s Day is widely celebrated across the country with the presentation of gifts and flowers, family outings, and acts of appreciation for the institution of motherhood. Let’s learn when and how Swiss Mother’s Day is celebrated and how to wish mothers a happy Mother’s Day in Switzerland.

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The history of Mother’s Day in Switzerland

Mother’s Day was first established in Switzerland in 1917, by the Salvation Army. The celebration was restricted to small circles until the 1920s, when florists, pastry chefs and other interested parties began to get involved. 

The breakthrough came in 1930, when the day was promoted in the press and on the radio. Flyers hung throughout cities and displays in shop windows helped to further spread the word that a special new holiday had arrived in Switzerland.

When is Mother’s Day in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, Mother’s Day is observed on the second Sunday of May, so the exact date varies from year to year. 

Switzerland is one of the many countries around the world that celebrate Mother’s Day on this date. The tradition was established in the United States in the early 20th century. It spread widely in the subsequent decades, and the second Sunday in May is now the most common date to celebrate Mother’s Day. 

Other countries celebrate the holiday on different dates. For example, Switzerland’s neighbor, France, celebrates Mother’s Day on the last Sunday of May. In general, Mother’s Day is on Sunday in most countries, as this gives families the opportunity to have time to be together.

Mother’s Day in Switzerland may be moved if it overlaps with Pentecost, though this has not been the case in recent years.

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How is Swiss Mother’s Day celebrated?

There may be variations in the customs associated with Mother’s Day celebrations in different countries and cultures. In Switzerland, Mother’s Day is not a public holiday, so it would be unusual to make a whole day’s celebration out of it. Nevertheless, it is a great opportunity to bring the family together.

On Mother’s Day, people in Switzerland often express their gratitude and affection to their mothers and carers by giving gifts, sending cards and spending quality time with their loved ones. School children often make and paint gifts at school to bring home to their mothers. Many families also enjoy special meals or outings together to celebrate the occasion. Mothers may get breakfast in bed, and they are generally not expected to cook dinner on their special day.

People often give gifts to their mothers as a token of appreciation. Popular gifts include flowers, chocolates, perfumes, jewelry and personalized items. Of course, many people take the opportunity to express their feelings by writing a heartfelt card.

The most important thing for many mothers is that they spend the day with their family. Many plan an outing, such as a hike in the beautiful Swiss mountains or a lakeside picnic. A wellness day is another popular option. Children who are old enough might make their mother a traditional meal to celebrate, or the family might go out for dinner at a favorite restaurant.

Saying “Happy Mother’s Day” in Switzerland

Switzerland is a multilingual country with four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Therefore, the Mothers’ Day greeting will depend on which canton you are in: 

  • German: “Alles Gute zum Muttertag” or “Einen schönen Muttertag” 
  • French: “Bonne fête des mères” 
  • Italian: “Buona festa della mamma” 
  • Romansh: “Buna di festa dallas mamas” 

Happy Mums all around

After one hundred years, Mother’s Day has certainly found its place in Swiss tradition. It is wonderful to see the Swiss demonstrate their appreciation of mothers on Mother’s Day — a sign of the high esteem in which mothers in Swiss society are held. Mothers everywhere push themselves to the limits to make the best life possible for their families, relatives, friends and neighbors. This applies, in equal measure, to Swiss Mums.

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Leona Quigley

Leona has her roots in the South of Ireland, where she grew up on her family farm. She went on to study World Politics at Leiden University College, The Hague and then completed her MPhil in International History at Trinity College Dublin. Leona has now settled in Berlin, having fallen in love with the city. In her spare time she is working on perfecting her German in anticipation of her doctoral studies, during which she plans to study modern German social history. Her hobbies include bouldering, dancing and reading a healthy mix of history books and corny fantasy fiction. You can find more info about her on LinkedIn.

Leona Quigley

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