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How to celebrate Mother’s Day in France

By Aline
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Mother’s Day, known as “La Fête des Mères” in France, is a cherished occasion celebrated with great enthusiasm and love. This special day, dedicated to honoring mothers and their contributions to family and society, offers a wonderful glimpse into French culture and traditions. If you’re an international student planning to live and study in France, understanding how the French celebrate Mother’s Day can enrich your cultural experience and help you blend in seamlessly.

A Brief History of Mother’s Day in France

Mother’s Day in France has its roots in the early 20th century. The modern celebration began in 1906 when a village in the Rhône region held a ceremony to honor mothers of large families. The French government officially recognized Mother’s Day in 1920 to acknowledge the sacrifices of mothers, especially those who had lost sons during World War I.

Mother's Day in France

How the French Celebrate Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day in France is a family-centric event marked by various heartfelt traditions and customs. Here are some of the most common ways the French celebrate this special day:

Giving Flowers

Flowers are a quintessential part of Mother’s Day in France. French children often present their mothers with beautiful bouquets, with roses, peonies, and lilies being the most popular choices. Florists across the country see a significant surge in business as families rush to buy floral arrangements that express their love and gratitude.

For Mother’s Day in France, the most commonly given flowers include:

  1. Roses: A classic choice symbolizing love and appreciation, often given in various colors such as red, pink, and white.
  2. Peonies: Loved for their large, fragrant blooms and often associated with romance and prosperity.
  3. Lilies: Symbolizing purity and refined beauty, these elegant flowers are also a popular choice.
  4. Tulips: Known for their vibrant colors and simplicity, tulips convey warmth and happiness.
  5. Orchids: Exotic and long-lasting, orchids are appreciated for their beauty and elegance.

Mother's Day in France
Homemade Gifts and Cards

French children, especially the younger ones, take pride in creating handmade gifts and cards for their mothers. These personalized tokens of affection, often made at school or home, hold immense sentimental value. The effort and creativity put into these gifts are highly appreciated, making them treasured keepsakes for mothers.

Here are some ideas of gifts:

  1. Personalized Photo Card: Create a card featuring a memorable photo of you and your host mother.
  2. Pop-up Card: Design a card with a pop-up feature, such as flowers or hearts, for a special touch.
  3. Decorated Photo Frame: Decorate a photo frame with craft supplies and include a special photo.
  4. Scented Candles: Make homemade candles using essential oils and personalized scents.
  5. Knitted or Crocheted Items: Create a cosy scarf, hat, or blanket if you enjoy knitting or crocheting.
  6. Hand-sewn Items: Sew a simple tote bag, pillow, or apron with fabrics and patterns that reflect your host mother’s style.
  7. DIY Jewelry: Create a piece of jewellery, such as a bracelet or necklace, using beads, charms, and other materials.

Family Gatherings and Meals

Family gatherings are central to Mother’s Day celebrations in France. Many families come together to enjoy a special meal, either at home or in a restaurant. Traditional French dishes, such as quiche, coq au vin, and tarte tatin, often grace the dining table. The meal is an opportunity for family members to bond, reminisce, and express their appreciation for the mother’s role in the family.

Incorporating French Mother’s Day Traditions

As an international student in France, you can embrace these traditions to make the day special for any mother figures in your life. This person could be your host mother if you are staying with a host family in France. Participating in local Mother’s Day activities can also help you feel more connected to French culture and community.

Here are a few tips on how you can incorporate French Mother’s Day traditions:

  1. Learn Floral Etiquette: Familiarize yourself with the types of flowers that are considered appropriate for Mother’s Day in France. A well-chosen bouquet can convey your appreciation beautifully.
  2. Get Crafty: Try your hand at making a handmade gift or card. Even if your artistic skills are limited, the effort and personal touch will be greatly appreciated.
  3. Plan a Special Meal: If you enjoy cooking, consider preparing a traditional French meal for the mother figure in your life. Research recipes and surprise her with a delicious and heartfelt gesture.
  4. Join Local Events: Check out local community centers or cultural organizations for any Mother’s Day events or activities. Participating in these can give you a deeper understanding of how the day is celebrated in France.

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day in France is a beautiful blend of tradition, love, and family values. By understanding and participating in these celebrations, international students can gain a richer cultural experience. Whether it’s through giving flowers, making handmade gifts, or enjoying a family meal, the essence of Mother’s Day in France lies in showing love and appreciation for the incredible women who shape our lives.

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