When is Mother’s Day in France this year? Is it well celebrated?

The first official Fête des Mères took place in Artas, a small village in Isère, on June 10, 1906

Flowers are a popular present on Mother’s Day in France

This Sunday (May 26), it is Mother’s Day, or Fête des Mères in France. 

Although not a bank holiday, la Fête des Mères is an important, well-established day celebrated throughout the country. 

Adult children will often give their mothers a present such as flowers, perfume, jewellery or a meal in a restaurant. Lots of high-street and online shops offer special Mother’s Day presents. 

If they live far away, they will at least give their mother a call to wish them a happy Mother’s Day, saying Bonne fête maman or Joyeuse Fête des Mères.

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A quarter of French people said they would give their mother flowers in the most recent YouGov survey, with between 8% replying perfume, 6% chocolates and 3% a family getaway. A quarter said they were not planning on giving a present. 

At schools, pupils will often spend a morning or afternoon making their mother a gift to be presented on the Sunday. These most often mean lovingly made poems and cards but can also include handmade presents such as paperweights or pasta necklaces, depending on the school and teacher. 

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A brief history of Mother’s Day 

The origins of la Fête des Mères can be traced back to Antiquity. The Ancient Greek used to celebrate mothers at religious celebrations organised for Rhea, the mother of gods. 

‘Mothering Sunday’ became a tradition in the 16th century in the UK, celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This is why the dates are different across the Channel, as Mother’s Day was celebrated on March 10 this year in the UK (the US . 

The first official Fête des Mères took place in Artas, a small village in Isère, on June 10, 1906. Two women, mothers to nine children, were awarded a certificate of “High Maternal Merit”, 25 francs and a bouquet of flowers. 

Then, in 1918, Lyon honoured the mothers who lost sons during the war with the Journée des Mères.

Read more: The real history of Mother’s Day in France 

However, it was not until 1950 that Mother’s Day became official in France. A law decreed that Mother’s Day is to be celebrated on the last Sunday of May, unless it coincides with Pentecôte , in which case it is celebrated on the first Sunday of June.