What to say to your mother in Cantonese for Mothers' day?


Mother’s Day is coming. I am wishing all mothers here, an early happy mother’s day. 母親節快樂!母親 is the formal way of saying mother, 節 is festival, and 快樂 means happy or happiness. Thank you all mothers for all your hard work. Shout out to my beautiful mother in Hong Kong, best mother I know who always tries her best to give it all. Also shouting out to my mother in law, who raised an amazing son who is now my hubby. I too am a mother of 2 cats and a foster mom for another cat. So anyway today, let’s talk about a couple of sentences you can say to your mother and praise her in Cantonese, if your mother is Canto, otherwise, it’s still good to learn some vocab. Let’s go.

In the how to call your immediate family members episode, I introduced the ways to say the word mother in Cantonese. Do you remember? To recap, the most common way to say the way mother is 媽媽 or 媽咪 the exact sound of the English word mommy,like I said before 母親 is the formal way to call your mother. Since you will be saying these things to your mom, we will stick with 媽媽 right now.

Similar to wishing people happy birthday, to wish your mother something for mother’s day, you will say “Wishing you…” and in cantonese you will say 祝 meaning wish or hope. So to put two and two together, to say “wishing my mother …”, you will say 祝我媽媽,or you can simply omit the 我 meaning my, and say 祝媽媽. Simple! So now you know your first sentence to say to your mother, Wishing my mother happy mother’s day, in Cantonese it is 祝媽媽母親節快樂!

You can also say to your mother: 媽媽好偉大- meaning mother is very great/ mighty/ heroic. There isn’t a word in English that can explain the word 偉大, you can think of this term as when someone who is willing to sacrifice everything for a certain good cause, you can use this term 偉大. The next phrase I want to introduce is 世上只有媽媽好,literally means in the world only mother is good. This line actually came from a Mandarin song. I think almost all Hong Kongers would know this song.

Click here for the song - 世上只有媽媽好

So let me just quickly translate the first couple lines for you, as closely and as accurately as possible.

Here it is:


In the whole world, only mothers are the best.


Children with mothers are like a piece of gem.


Going into mother’s arms, 


Hard to experience all the love and happiness.


In the whole world, only mothers are the best.


Children without mothers are like a tuft of grass.


Leaving mother’s arms,


where can you find all the love and happiness?

Got it? So to tell your mother, you are the best and I am feeling all the love. You can simply tell her 世上只有媽媽好, the context is implied.

For the kids that left home, like myself, something sweet to say to your mother would be 在家千日好,it literally means (ignoring the grammatical structure of English) at home thousand days good. This phrase actually come from a poem, by a poet called 楊基, so in English I guess his name would be Kee Yeung/ Young. The next line of the poem after 在家千日好 at home thousand days good is 出門半朝難, literally means out the door, half a morning difficult. So I guess you can kind of get what it means, the gist is that when you leave home, it isn’t as easy as when you are comfortably at home. Some people who are luckier, while some are not as lucky, their mothers or parents will always try their best to take care of and love them. Whereas, once you leave home, it’s hard to find people that will treat you as nice as your family, and now you have to do things on your own. So you can say that to your mother, 在家千日好

Let me share this Chinese concept with you, I am not sure if other cultures also share the same concept? Please do let me know. This concept is called filial piety, in cantonese it’s called 孝順. Filial piety is the respect and love you have for your parents, your grandparents and so on and so forth. In the Chinese concept, kids of course were given life by their parents. Regardless of how they might have treated you, at least up till today you are still alive. We must be, in the Chinese concept, be grateful to them and be nice and make sure they won’t have to worry for you. Of course with the super super traditional concept, the most unfilial thing to do, is not to have offsprings to carry your family name. Which is from this ancient Chinese saying, 不孝有三,無後為大, meaning there are three things that are considered unfilial, without offsprings is the worst deeds of the three. This is very very traditional concept. Many Hong Kong couples prefer not to have kids, because life isn’t great right, why bring kids to a miserable place? I am of course referring to:

1. The political situation

2. Inability to afford a place to live

3. Education system that is way too stressful for both the kids and the parents And many more social economical issues.

Many parents of course understand this, but at the end of the day I guess they feel kind of sad that if their kids choose not to have kids, it’s like ending a legacy.

Last but not least, don’t forget to say “mother I love you”, in Cantonese, it is 媽媽,我愛你。 At the end of the day, I believe mothers (well at least Hong Kong mothers) simply want all their kids and family to sit around and eat and share some quality time together. Now in Hong Kong they have relaxed their restrictions and eight people can sit around at a table at the restaurant at a time. It’s a very difficult time for all of us right now. If you haven’t called your mother in a while, pick up the phone and chat with her for a little bit. I truly believe that you being safe and healthy is the biggest gift for her this mother’s day. Also, to be filial 孝順, my dad always says it isn’t just that one day, like mother’s day for example. You should treat everyday like mother’s day and be grateful of the time you get with your family. That’s it for today, I gotta go spend some time chatting with my mom.

Here I wish all mothers an early happy mother’s day, 祝所有既媽媽母親節快樂!