Mother's Day
Mother's Day

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The answers to all of your Mother's Day questions!

Mother's Day

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Why is Mother's Day 2023 in France in June?

Mother's Day is usually celebrated in France on the last Sunday of May. However, this year because Pentecost falls the same day it has been moved to Sunday 4 June 2023.

Are there any special Mother's Day traditions in France?

Since the 20th of May 1920, mayors have honoured mothers of large families with three types of ‘Family Medal’ (la Médaille de la Famille). 

You can see the three medals below: Gold medals are presented to those with an incredible eight children or more, silver for six or seven, and bronze if they have four or five. 

Since the 22nd of February 2022 this medal can also be presented to volunteers or professionals working with, and safe guarding children.

Mother's Day Gifts

Looking for something a little different to the standard flowers, chocolates, and mass-produced cards?  

As always, a quick search of natifcreatif artisans offers loads of wonderfully original, locally made gifts suited to all budgets.  At the moment we're only showing Montpellier (France) and Bristol (UK), but would love to expand, so if you are, or know of, an artisan who would like to reach new markets, get in touch!

Maybe Mother's Day is the excuse you've been looking for to try your hand at crafts, but you're struggling for inspiration?  'Elle' have a list of ideas for sweet handmade presents which won’t break the bank here.

Looking for a non-Hallmark card but don't have time (or possibly the talent!) to make one?  Try FB PaperArt - Faye has a selection of cards and paper art pictures ready made (see below), but also takes commisions for personalized pieces.

What gift can I get for the mother of a child under five?

You're in luck, thoughtful and meaningful options at a variety of prices abound!

Consider a personalized photo album or a custom-made piece of jewelry featuring the child's name or birthstone. Local, independent artisans are abundant but sometimes hard to find - if you're in England, Eily O Connell makes spectacular pieces and would be delighted to discuss possibilties (see picture far right).  For personalised French goodies in resin, try the couple at La Maison Rez'in (picture centre - right) while for timeless up-market handmade jewellery, Le biso and MAHTE bijoux are both excellent choices (center-left and left respectively).  

A spa or wellness package could provide a well-deserved break for the busy mom, allowing her to relax and recharge. 

A subscription to a parenting magazine or a book on child development could also be a great choice, offering valuable insights and support.  Of course, independent book shops like those listed in BristolLondon or Montpellier (in France, this link is in French) help support locals rather than Amazon...

For those who enjoy capturing memories, a high-quality camera or a photo session with a professional photographer could be a treasured gift. The Canon EOS R50 Mirrorless Camera (at $799.99, it's one of the pricier options) is light, easy to use and great for beginners.  

Additionally, a handmade craft or artwork created by the child, such as a finger-painted masterpiece or a handcrafted card, would undoubtedly bring joy. 

Gift ideas for the mother of a child between five and ten

For mothers with children between the ages of five and ten, consider gifts that foster creativity and quality time together. 

A family board game or a puzzle can provide hours of fun and bonding for the whole family.

A subscription to a children's book club can encourage a love for reading and storytelling. 

Personalized jewelry featuring the child's initials or birthstone serves as a sentimental keepsake.  

Additionally, a day out at a local amusement park or a picnic in the park can create memories for everyone involved.

What to get mothers of children between ten and sixteen

The teenage years are a time of growth and self-discovery, and our wonderful mothers guide and support us throughout. 

Thoughtful gifts can include experiences that promote bonding and self-expression. Consider a mother-child cooking class or a DIY craft workshop where they can learn and create together.  If your Mum's in the south of France and would like to make the delicious, traditional macaron, Eléonore (pic on the left) gives classes for all levels in your home or hers. As for workshops, Frammenti in the center of Montpellier (center pic) offer mosaic making classes or you can give the gift of a pottery class at Claycraft (right).

A journal or a scrapbooking kit can provide an outlet for self-reflection and shared creativity. 

A personalized piece of jewelry with an engraved message can serve as a heartfelt reminder of their unique bond. Additionally, tickets to a concert or a sporting event that aligns with the child's interests can make for an exciting shared experience

Ideas for mothers with adult children

You're all grown up and a pasta necklace just won't cut it anymore.  So, consider options that focus on individuality and shared memories. As seen above, a personalized photo book showcasing cherished moments and milestones can be a touching gift, while a spa day or a wellness retreat provides an opportunity for relaxation and self-care. 

Enrolling in a cooking class or a creative workshop together allows for quality time and shared experiences which may be few and far between if you work, have a family of your own or live away from home.  

A personalized piece of jewelry that symbolizes their bond, such as a mother-child birthstone necklace, can hold deep sentimental value. 

For mums who like giving - have a look at buying a bracelet from Helpusadopt.org who give 100% of their profits to grants for families struggling with adoption costs.

For active mums - bikes (The Electra Loft 7D is supposedly very good), walking poles (Jetti poles for example) or badminton/tennis material.

The best French phrases to know for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! - Bonne fête des mères !

Breakfast in bed - Petit déjeuner au lit

A gift - Un cadeau

I love you, Mum - Je t'aime, maman

Mother's Day in antiquity

In ancient Greece tribute was paid to Rhea (left picture), the daughter of Ouranos (the sky) and Gaia (the earth), as not only did she represent nature and fertility but she was also the mother of all gods. 

From the 5th century BC, the Romans turned the day into Matraliae (from the Latin word for mother - mater); a real festival during which women and mothers were celebrated and given gifts under the watchful eye of the goddess Juno (the statue on the right), the daughter of Rhea and protector of women, vital force and fertility.

The history of Mother's Day in France

The roots of Mother's Day in France take us all the way back to 1866 when the population started to decrease. By 1896 matters had not improved and so the statistician Jacques Bertillon started a natalist campaign aimed at politicians and decision makers. Following his work, in 1897 the National Alliance Against Depopulation launched the idea of a holiday to honour mothers and fathers of large families which took some time to come to fruition…

Although the village Artas claims to have celebrated the first ever Mother’s Day in France on the 10th of June 1906, the first official "Mother’s Day" was held in Lyon in 1918 to pay tribute to mothers who had lost a son in the Great War. A few years later, in 1926, the date of Mothers' Day was fixed by decree on the fourth Sunday in May.

Fifteen years later, the Marshal Pétain and the Vichy regime officially named the 25 May 1941, to be for all mothers, regardless of their number of children. Schools were encouraged to participate in the festivities and children started handmaking gifts and cards we still see today.

Skipping forward to the 24th of May 1950, President Vincent Auriol included Mother’s Day as law and set the date of the celebration for the last Sunday in May. "The French Republic officially pays tribute to French mothers each year on a day dedicated to the celebration of 'Mother's Day'.

Mother's Day Around the World

The United Nations set the official Mother's Day as the second Sunday in May.  However, unlike Christmas and Halloween, Mother's Day falls on different dates each year in different countries.

In the UK, Mother's Day, or Mothering Sunday, is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.  It can be traced way back to the 16th century when those who had moved away from their home towns would return to their “mother” church, or the church they were baptized in, for Lent.  Naturally, because the dates for Lent vary each year, so does that of Mothering Sunday.

Australia started celebrating Mother's Day in 1924 and tows the UN line on the second Sunday in May.  Recognizing that many mothers had lost sons or husbands in the First World War, Janet Heyden campaigned to give them gifts to not only recognize their loss but also show them some much needed love. Being on the other side of the planet, Australia can't use carnations during their autumn and opt for chrysanthemums instead.  

In Thailand, Mother's Day has been celebrated since 1976 on the 12th of August, the birthday of the mother of their country, Queen Sirikit.  Children donate time and money ro charities during this huge national holiday complete with fireworks and parades.  The traditional flower offered is jasmine, signifying the purity of a mother's love.

One of the saddest Mother’s Day beginnings took place in the USA...

Anna Jarvis was one of 13 children, of which only 4 survived to adulthood. After losing her own mother, and despite not having any children herself, she started a campaign to recognize the work and sacrifices of all mothers. In May 1908 she organised the first official Mother’s Day in a Methodist Church in her home town of Grafton, West Virginia. 

Following this she started a huge letter writer campaign, bombarding decision makers with telegrams and letters pressuring them to have Mother’s Day added to the national calendar. She wrote, printed and distributed leaflets to this end at her own expense. All this hard work paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson officially established Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May.

For Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day was to be a loving family celebration involving church services and wearing  carnations. But of course, once the day became officially recognized, businesses were quick to capitalize and by 1920 Jarvis was so disappointed with the commercialization and distortion of her original message that she openly denounced Mother’s Day and encouraged people to stop spending money on gifts and cards. 

She spent the rest of her life combatting those profiting from Mother’s Day and lobbying the government to remove it from the calendar. She died in 1948, having spent most of her personal fortune on lawsuits with groups using the name ‘Mother’s Day’.

This year (2023) Americans plan to spend a record high 35.7 billion dollars on Mother’s Day....

Read more or see a little more about Mother's Day in the USA in this short video:

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