Is Mother’s Day a ‘proper’ special occasion, or is it too commercialised?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
March 26, 2022, 10:10 AM GMT+0

Western Europeans tend to think the celebration has strayed from its roots

Mother’s Day is a time for children and adults alike to let their mothers know how much they mean to them. But are people prompted to say thank you to their matriarchs by the spirit of the day itself, or because they are being bombarded by companies telling them to express their affection through the medium of buying things?

A new YouGov survey in 18 countries and territories shows a mixed picture regarding Mother’s Day. We asked more than 19,000 people whether they thought Mother’s Day is celebrated more because it is a ‘proper’ special occasion, or if it was an occasion that people wouldn’t celebrate if it weren’t for pressure from commercial entities like greetings card companies.

Polish people are especially likely to say that Mother’s Day is celebrated nationally for the right reasons, at 85%. Only 10% see the time of tribute to their mothers as too commercialised.

Almost two thirds of people in the UAE (66%) likewise see Mother’s Day as something that is still celebrated on its own terms, rather than because of commercial pressure (21%). Online Chinese respondents come third, with similar figures (64% vs 24%).

Belief that Mother’s Day is still being celebrated as a ‘proper’ special occasion is generally lower in the West, and particularly in Western Europe. Danes are the most cynical, with 61% saying they think that entities like greeting card companies are the driving force behind the celebration these days, compared to only 27% who disagree.

Swedes, Germans, Italians, Spaniards and British people also tend to be more sceptical than not about people’s motivations on Mother’s Day, with French people split. In the USA, a small majority (54%) still think that the maternal moment is marked for traditional reasons, compared to a third (34%) who see it as more of a commercialised celebration.

Men and women in each country/territory tend to hold similar views on the matter. The biggest differences are in Hong Kong, the UAE and Great Britain, where women are somewhat more likely than men to say Mother’s Day is being celebrated true to its original intent.

See the full results here

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