Dutch Language Blog

Mama, we houden van jou! – Mother’s Day in the Netherlands Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary

Yesterday was a great day for many mothers in the Netherlands – their children gave them presents and thanked them for being such awesome moeders (mothers). You might ask the question “maar waarom alleen op één dag van het jaar?” (but why only on one day of the year?), and that is a legitimate question. Not one to focus on today, however! Today, I want to talk about moederdag (Mother’s Day) in the Netherlands.

When is it held?

Since moederdag is held at different times in different countries, this is quite a legitimate question. In the Netherlands and many other countries, it is the tweede zondag van mei (second sunday of May).

Where does it come from?

Moederdag in its current, modern form started in the Verenigde Staten (United States). Anna Marie Jarvis wanted to honor her moeder in 1908, because she had helped moeders in need in the burgeroorlog (Civil War). The idea worked, and since then, the tweede zondag van mei is moederdag. It arrived later in Europe, and was held for the first time in the Netherlands in 1925.

BijzonderMoederdag in Antwerpen

In Antwerpen (Antwerp) in Belgium, moederdag is celebrated on a different day: On 15 augustus (August 15), the same day as the Maria-Tenhemelopneming (Assumption of Mary). It was first held in 1913, so before the American moederdag had reached Europe. Frans van Kuyck thought that the sociale orde (social order) was disrupted because of the quick pace of modernisering (modernization). He thought that the oplossing (solution) would be to create waardigheid van de familie (worthiness of the family). It is only in Antwerp (and in Costa Rica!) that it is held on 15 augustus.


Anyway, what do the Dutch do for their mothers on Mother’s Day?

Ontbijt op bed

Ontbijt op bed (breakfast in bed). I have done that with my brothers so many times for my mom! It is fun to prepare ontbijt – make mama some vers geperste sinaasappelsap (freshly squeezed orange juice), bake up some croissantjes (croissants), and have some zelfgemaakte jam (self-made marmalade). Ze heeft het verdient! (She deserves it!)


The goal of moederdag is to spoil (verwennen) mom a little. It is still mostly the case that moeders do the huishouden (housework). To give mama some relief of that, many kinderen (children) and mannen (husbands) do it for her!


The business that’s booming – or rather blooming – in the week before moederdag is bloemen (flowers)! Many moeders are surprised (although, is it still a verassing (surprise) anymore?) with bloemen from their kinderen and partner (partner).

Iets leuks doen!

Moederdag is held on a zondag – so a lot of people have some free time on that day. Ideaal om iets leuks te doen! (Ideal to do something fun!) Many families (families) go on trips to a stad that the moeder likes, or they do something else she enjoys. That is the point, at least. Why not make it a nice familiedag (family day)?!

Do you think moederdag should not only be for moeders, but for all vrouwen? What about vaders (fathers) – should there just be a day for parents instead of two separate days for mothers and fathers? Let me know in the comments below!

Tags: , , ,
Keep learning Dutch with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.