Mothers Day – Fête des Mères – origin
Mothers Day – Fête des Mères celebration is not a modern concept as it orignated in Greek mythology!
Ancient Greeks indeed celebrated Rhea, the mother of all gods and goddesses, during spring.
The Romans took over the celebration.
The cult of Cybele, the mother of all the Roman gods, survived until the 4th century AD.
However, the tradition then disappeared until 1806, when Napoleon I tried to implement an official date in order to celebrate motherhood.
That said, the project never materialized!
French will celebrate Mother’s Day on 29 May 2022 – 4 June 2023
French Mothers Day initiated in 1916
In 1906, Prosper Roche, an inhabitant of Artas in the department of Isère, founded the Union Fraternelle.
The association’s purpose was to pay tribute to the parents of large families.
Artas has since been recognized as the cradle of the French Mothers Day celebration.
The city of Lyon organized a Mothers Day in 1918.
The city indeed wanted to pay tribute to all the women who lost a relative during the Great War.
A couple of years later, Mothers Day celebrating mothers with large families was implemented in order to encourage women to have children and ‘repopulate’ France.
This celebration included the award of a medal “Médailles de la Famille Française”.
Fête des Mères, a controversial celebration
Fête des Mères became an official celebration in 1929, however, more or less fell into oblivion until 1941.
Marshal Pétain indeed re-launched the celebration during WWII, once more in order to encourage the re-population of the country!
The notion of family and housewife became the base of French society for the years to follow.
The celebration was very controversial at the time, because it had been implemented by the Regime of Vichy.
Many women also thought that it was a sexist concept that denied them emancipation.
They argued that politicians forgot that women worked in the factories and replaced the men who were on the front.
They indeed contributed to the war effort, proved that they were equal to men and now they were asked to return to their cooking!
General Charles De Gaulle eventually granted women the right to vote at the end of the war – better late than never!
French Mother’s Day officially decreed by law in 1950
On May 24, 1950 Mothers Day was officially decreed by law.
It was fixed to the last Sunday in May and has since become one of the most popular French celebrations.
However, Mothers Day is postponed to the first Sunday in June when Pentecost occurs on the same Sunday.