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Mother’s Day in Sweden, like in many other parts of the world, is a day to celebrate the special women in our lives who have nurtured and loved us since our early years. 

Known as “Mors Dag” in Swedish, it’s a day to recognize and appreciate the hard work and sacrifice of mothers or mother figures. 

In this article, I’ll take you through the history of Mother’s Day in Sweden and explore the different ways to celebrate this special day in a fun, meaningful and memorable way. 

From traditional meals and gift-giving to charitable events and activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

children holding flowers and gift for mother's day in Sweden

When is Mother’s Day in Sweden?

Mother’s Day in Sweden (“Mors Dag” in Swedish) is celebrated on the last Sunday in May, which is Sunday, 28 May in 2023. It’s a day to honor and appreciate mothers and mother figures for their love and care. 

The tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day in Sweden can be traced back to the early 20th century. That is, in the early 1900s, a woman named Cecilia Bååth-Holmberg started campaigning for a national Mother’s Day to be celebrated in Sweden. 

She argued that mothers deserve recognition for their hard work and sacrifice, and that a national holiday would be a way to show appreciation for them.

daughter giving her mother flowers for mother's day in Sweden

Specifically, she wrote the following:

“More than ever do we need to gather around something that warms and shines for us all. A worthiness of life that, in spite of the changes of all other things, still stands firm and unchanged without being threadbare or diminished in power or beauty: Our mother’s care and love.” 

The campaign was successful and in 1919, Mother’s Day was officially recognized in Sweden, although it’s not a national holiday.

Why is Mother’s Day different in Sweden?

While Mother’s Day in Sweden was first celebrated on the second Sunday of May, it was later moved to the last Sunday in May. It’s thought that this was due to there being more flowers available at the end of May in Sweden as the weather got warmer.

In the United States, Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908 by Anna Jarvis, who organized a memorial for her mother. 

The holiday quickly gained popularity and was officially recognized as a national holiday in 1914. The date for Mother’s Day in the US is always the second Sunday of May.

In contrast, Sweden’s Mother’s Day was officially recognized in 1919 after having gotten to Norway the previous year. While it was initially on the same day as it’s celebrated in the US, it was later shifted back by two weeks.

Despite the different dates though, the two are celebrated pretty similarly!

Related: 31 Best Reasons to Move to Sweden

How do they celebrate Mother’s Day in Sweden?

On Mother’s Day in Sweden, many families will have a special meal together, often with flowers and gifts for the mothers. Some families may also go out for a special outing, such as a picnic or trip to the countryside. It’s common for children to make cards or crafts for their mothers as gifts.

In addition to celebrating mothers and mother figures in their own families, Swedes also use Mother’s Day as an opportunity to honor and support mothers in society. Charitable organizations may hold events or fundraisers to support mothers in need, such as single mothers or mothers of children with disabilities.

Funnily enough, when Mother’s Day first started in Sweden, it was believed that there was a need to detail just how people should celebrate this.

a daughter holding a bouquet of flower as a surprise for mother's day in Sweden

To help with this, the “Mors Dag” committee in Uppsala distributed a brochure with instructions on just how to celebrate this day, recommending that people do the following:

  • Hoist the Swedish flag on the home’s flagpole
  • Greet mother in the morning with songs from the children
  • Offer mother good coffee and bread prepared by the children, along with flowers and a small gift
  • Allow mother to rest and be free from household chores for the day
  • Have the children do the bed-making, sweeping, cooking, and dishes
  • Hold a small ceremony in the afternoon or evening, involving the father of the house
  • Have absent children send a letter, telegram, or postcard made specially for Mother’s Day

There are definitely some similarities there to how Swedes celebrate Mother’s Day today, although you can assume that the “father of the house” as a modern Swede is a bit more involved in the day to day running of the home than he probably would have been back then.

Overall though, whether looking at it in the early 1900s or today, Mother’s Day in Sweden is a day to appreciate and celebrate the love, care, and sacrifice of mothers and mother figures. It’s a time for families to come together and show their appreciation, no matter how they choose to do so, as well as an opportunity to support mothers in the community.