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Celebrating Mother’s Day in France

Did you know that people have been celebrating mothers and motherhood for a very long time? After all, what would the world be like without mothers? A lot bleaker than it is already, I imagine!

Like many countries around the world, France has a special holiday set aside to honor one’s mother. In this article, you’ll learn all about Mother’s Day, France’s take on this holiday, and some new vocab.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is thought to have originated as far back as Ancient Greece, where the population organized springtime ceremonies for Rhea, the grandmother to the gods (and Zeus’ mother). The Ancient Romans had a similar holiday for celebrating mothers, called Matronalia. What we think of as Mother’s Day today, however, likely originated in the United States when Anna Jarvis publicly commemorated her deceased mother.

In 1929, the French government officially made Mother’s Day a holiday after many years of smaller celebrations throughout the country. The village of Artas refers to itself as the “cradle of Mother’s Day” due to a celebration it held in 1906 for mothers of large families. In 1920, this holiday was recognized, later becoming Mother’s Day as we know it today. In 1941, the Vichy Regime put this holiday on the calendar, and it was set to be the last Sunday of May; this took effect after the war.

In modern times, Mother’s Day is simply a holiday dedicated to honoring one’s mother and showering her with gifts.

2. When is Mother’s Day in France?

Mother’s Day is on a Sunday

Each year, the French celebrate Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in May (unless it falls on the same day as Pentecost, in which case it’s moved to the first Sunday of June). For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: June 7
  • 2021: May 30
  • 2022: May 29
  • 2023: June 4
  • 2024: May 26
  • 2025: May 25
  • 2026: May 31
  • 2027: May 30
  • 2028: May 28
  • 2029: May 27

3. Mother’s Day in France: Traditions & Celebrations

A Little Girl Holding Up a Handmade Mother’s Day Card

The most popular way to celebrate this holiday is by giving Mother’s Day gifts.

Starting from an early age, children make gifts for their mothers by hand; common items include cards and jewelry that were made in school. As children grow older, they may buy their mother things like clothes, perfume, or Mother’s Day flowers. Other popular gifts include chocolat (“chocolate”), a carte de vœux (“greeting card”), or a bon d’achat (“gift certificate”).

In addition, some children may give their mother a petit déjeuner au lit (“breakfast in bed”), and her husband may take the family out for a nice Mother’s Day dinner somewhere.

4. Médaille de la Famille

In France, there’s an honorary medal called the Médaille de la Famille that’s given out to families who have done well in raising a great many children.

Originally, this medal was created in hopes of giving mothers the honor and appreciation they deserve. Later on, however, fathers and other caregivers were allowed to receive this award as well.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Mother’s Day in France

A Family Eating Dinner Together

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here are the most important words and phrases for Mother’s Day!

  • Dîner — “Dinner” [n. masc]
  • Dimanche — “Sunday” [n. masc]
  • Chocolat — “Chocolate” [n. masc]
  • Aimer — “Love” [v.]
  • Fille — “Daughter” [n. fem]
  • Fils — “Son” [n. masc]
  • Cadeau — “Present” [n. masc]
  • Rose — “Rose” [n. fem]
  • Mère — “Mother” [n. fem]
  • Célébrer — “Celebrate” [v.]
  • Petit déjeuner au lit — “Breakfast in bed” [masc]
  • Carte de vœux — “Greeting card” [fem]
  • Bon d’achat — “Gift certificate” [n. masc]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Mother’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about French Mother’s Day celebrations with us, and that you took away some valuable information from this article.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day in your country? We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to learn even more about French culture and the language, FrenchPod101.com has several more great articles for you:

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Wherever you are in your language-learning journey, we want to help you reach your goals with confidence and finesse.

Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂

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