Mother’s Day – the ultimate expat trap

Living overseas can be difficult for many reasons, but it can also be fraught with danger as I discovered this week when I almost fell into the ultimate expat trap: forgetting Mother’s Day. Despite the 9,000 miles distance currently between us, my mother and I normally communicate two or three times a week. She is often in my thoughts and there is no way that I would ignore Mother’s Day. For a start, I have a clear childhood memory of asking “Mum, why isn’t there a Children’s Day?” and her response “Every day is children’s day.” Point taken!

Why all the dates?

Most countries celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and most people believe it to be a cardinal sin not to show appreciation for everything your parents do for you throughout your life. So why, why, WHY are these occasions celebrated on such wildly varying dates across the world? According to my research there are 30 different dates on which Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world. Father’s Day is a fraction simpler, having only 27 dates to navigate.

Retail outlets can be relied upon to highlight an upcoming date of significance, but not when you are an expat. When you are an expat the onus is on you to remember the dates that your relatives, wherever they may be, will notice and of course, to make matters worse, they are different each year.

The UK dates change each year because they fall on Sundays, so Mother’s Day is the fourth Sunday of Lent (a period that also moves) and Father’s Day is on the third Sunday in June. Countries in the Middle East tend to celebrate around the vernal equinox and Thailand celebrates on the birthdays of the King and Queen.

Don’t forget!

Expats who regularly use social media and interact with folks from back home are unlikely to miss the mentions of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It may be too late to organise flowers and cards though, so my message to my fellow expats is simple: write it down in your diary, on your calendar, on the fridge, wherever you cannot miss it! Whatever you do, do not allow your situation to make it look like you forgot.


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