Why Antwerp celebrates Mother's Day today, months after rest of Belgium

Why Antwerp celebrates Mother's Day today, months after rest of Belgium
Why is Mother's Day celebrated on a different day in Antwerp? Credit: Canva

Many countries, from Belgium to Bangladesh and Croatia, celebrate mothers on the second Sunday in May. However, Antwerp waits until 15 August (today) to honour mums in its province.

For most people in Belgium, today is known for being Assumption Day (and an extra day off work), but in the northeastern part of the country, the focus of the day will be on mothers.

While it may not be the official day in Belgium, the Antwerp tradition outdates the day when the rest of the country celebrates mothers.

Why two different days?

The day recognised by many in Western Europe to celebrate mothers originated from the decision made by President Woodrow Wilson — who was president when women in the US gained the right to vote at the federal level in 1920 — in 1914 that every second Sunday in May would be a new bank holiday to honour mothers, a tradition that later spread to Europe.

However, the people of Antwerp celebrated this day even before 1914. One year earlier, Frans Van Kuyck, a liberal councillor at the time, wrote in his pamphlet 'The Mother's Day' that all mothers should be honoured on 15 August, according to Radio 2. This was to restore the dignity of the family and make it flourish.

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It is no coincidence that this day coincides with Assumption Day, as this is the name day of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Antwerp also has a close relationship with Mary, as she has been the patroness of the city since 1124.

The rest of the country may not have adopted their date of choice, but locals stubbornly continue to stick to their tradition. Aside from Antwerp, Costa Rica also celebrates Mother's Day on 15 August.

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