The Role of Mothers in Different Cultures: Peru – Vietnam – Cambodia

With our focus on mothers this month, we wanted to take a look at the different roles that mothers play throughout regions that our Aqua Expeditions vessels explore: Peru, Vietnam and Cambodia.



The role of the mother is highly valued in Peruvian culture and Dia de la Madre is significant day for most families. In some families, the mother is the head of the household and as matriarch, is the pillar of the home, the “trunk” of the family tree and is instrumental in keeping the family together.

As well as Dia de la Madre, celebrated annually every May 10th, in early August Peru’s indigenous Andean population also celebrate the gifts of Mother Earth, or “Pachamama”. Pachamama is an ancient mythological goddess beloved by many indigenous Andean populations. Mythology cites Pachamama as the fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting and her day of worship is called Martes de Challa.



In Vietnam, the role of the mother in the family is highly honoured.  The strong matriarchal heritage of Vietnam dates back to the country’s early history when it women in Vietnam often took leadership positions with little opposition locally. Strong female leaders in Vietnamese history such as the famous warriors, the Trung Sisters and Trieu Thi Trinh played crucial roles in the preservation of the country. The impact that these women left influenced the way in which Vietnam appreciates the roles of women in society today.

Even before American influences, Vietnam celebrated Mua Vu Lan, a day held on the seventh full moon of the lunar calendar and closely connected to the Asian tradition of ancestor worship and filial piety. This celebratory day is a time for Vietnamese children to honour and express their gratitude for their parents, in particular their mothers. It is also a day to try to help the lost souls of ancestors find their way back to earth.




As in Peru and Vietnam, mothers in Cambodia are a crucial part of the family and the glue that holds everyone together. They act as advisors to their husbands and as the family’s caregivers, caretakers and preservers of the home. Many mothers are also the financial controllers of the family. Woman in Cambodia have long been celebrated, with images compared to the celestial goddesses on the walls of the great temples of Angkor Wat. The images of a pleasant smile and a distant gaze serve as a paragon for Cambodian women today.