Moederdag: Mother’s Day in the Netherlands

Mother’s Day has been celebrated in the Netherlands on the second Sunday in May since 1931. By the mid-30’s, the slogan “Moederdag-Bloemendag” (Mother’s Day – Flower’s Day) was coined which, in turn, was followed by the “moederdag taart” (Mother’s Day cake) and other related offerings as one trade group after another another jumped on the bandwagon to promote their products as the right ones to celebrate the day.

An interesting fact most people aren’t aware of is that the modern Mother’s Day holiday is not related to well-known ancient rituals and historical festivities which celebrated mothers and motherhood, such as those of the Greeks (Cybele) or Romans (Hilaria) or even the Christians (Mothering Sunday). Yet in many countries, the Mother’s Day celebrations of today are often thought to be synonymous with these older traditions.

In the Netherlands, Mother’s Day has been celebrated since 1910, when it was introduced by the Dutch arm of the international organization, the Salvation Army. Very aware that this tradition originated in the US, the Royal Dutch Society for Horticulture and Botany promoted the holiday by imitating the commercial success of American, German and Austrian florists.

In order to promote the celebration for their own reasons, in 1925 florists included the publication of a “book of articles written by famous intellectuals, radio broadcasts, newspapers ads and the collaboration of priests and teachers who wanted to promote the celebration.”*

Most moms, no matter what country they live in, would prefer to be celebrated (or at least appreciated) on a daily basis rather than annually. But suffice it to say, a nice breakfast or brunch prepared by (or organized by) children or spouses will always go a long way with them. Who doesn’t like to be spoiled from time to time? Younger children often make presents for their mothers in daycare or at school and offer them to mum on that Sunday morning in the middle of May. Flower commerce escalates during the week before Mother’s Day, often reaching its peak for the year. Such is the case with the well-known flower auction in Aalsmeer.

Dutch Tulips, Keukenhof Gardens, Holland - 3954

Many families try to do something special on Mother’s Day; a picnic in one of The Hague’s more scenic parks or a family walk through the dunes or along the beach are popular choices.

Some alternatives for this coming weekend’s Mother’s Day celebrations in and around The Hague are: an Art walk through Scheveningen, organized by the “Kunst op Scheveningen” (KopS) on Saturday. Later you can enjoy a Spanish evening of literature, music, dance, food etc. at the ABC Treehut or attend a dance performance featuring sixteen breakdancers at the Lucent Danstheater . If you are looking for a culinary outing, this Saturday you can find a Bollywood entertainment at Taste of India restaurant. Rossini’s La Cenerentola will be performed by the Met Opera.

And on Sunday you could enjoy a Mother’s Day High Tea (literally a high tea at 42 stories) at the top of The Hague Tower. The Penthouse Restaurant is offering a special with warm snacks and sweet desserts along with a glass of Tatinger Champagne.

If you are located elsewhere in South Holland, find out what the options are in the Holiday Events category of the What’s On.


*(Helsloot, John (2007), “10. Vernacular Authenticity: Negotiating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in the Netherlands”, in Margry, Peter Jan; Roodenburg, Herman, Reframing Dutch Culture: Between Otherness and Authenticity, Progress in European Ethnology (illustrated ed.), Ashgate Publishing, pp. 6–7, 203–224)

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