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Don’t Forget La Fête Des Mères! Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Culture, History

Mother’s day is this weekend aux États-Unis, but not everywhere else in the world. As la fête des mères that matters to my mother approaches there are no ads to remind me because la fête is still a couple weeks away en France!

Photo by Ken Mayer on Flicker. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Holidays celebrating les mères can be traced back to antiquity. La Grèce antique (Anceint Greece) celebrated Rhéa, the mother of Zeus, and la Rome antique (Ancient Rome) celebrated Matronalia, une fête for les mères in Rome.

In the 15th century, les Anglais (the English) started celebrating Mothering Sunday au début du carême (at the start of Lent) then later le quatrième dimanche du carême (the fourth Sunday of Lent).

However, une Américaine, Anna Jarvis, started the modern holiday in 1908. She was a caring person who pushed for a national holiday celebrating mothers after holding a memorial for sa mère. Anna succeded in creating une fête for “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world” and la fête des mères spread from her home state of West Virginia across the entire country.

Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914 and set the date as le deuxième dimanche de mai (the second Sunday of May). La fête then became an international sensation with many other countries adopting an official fête des mères in the following years.

Alors la fête des mères n’est-elle pas le deuxième dimanche de mai ?
So isn’t Mother’s day the second Sunday of May?

La date exacte (the exact date) of la fête des mères changes depending on what country is celebrating the holiday. Les dates vary du deuxième dimanche de février au dernière dimanche de novembre (from the second Sunday of February to the last Sunday of November).

There is even quite the variation dans la francophonie:

Le deuxième dimanche de mai :
The second Sunday of May:

Le dernier dimanche de mai :
The last Sunday of May:

  • Tunisie
  • Algérie
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Haïti
  • Mauritanie
  • Sénégale
  • Maroc

Le dernier dimanche de mai ou le premier dimanche de juin* :
The last Sunday of May or the first Sunday of June*:

  • Bénin
  • Cameroun
  • France
  • Gabon
  • Madagascar
  • Monaco
  • Togo

*If the last Sunday in May is la Pentecôte (Pentecost) then la fête is moved to the first Sunday of June.

Le deuxième dimanche de juin :
The second Sunday of June:

  • Luxembourg

No matter la date exacte, make sure you don’t forget la fête des mères, especially for mes compatriotes ici en France!


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About the Author:John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.

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