Mother’s Day in France

mom.jpgIt’s Mother’s Day in France today. Yes, we do have Mother’s Day too. It has in fact been an official day in the regular calendar since 1941, that is to say since Pétain instituted it. Eventhough he is considered a traitor and is part of a past France is not too proud of, the relevance of Mother’s Day has never been questioned.

In France the first official celebration, la Journée des mères, was held in Lyons in 1918 as a tribute to the mothers and wives who had lost a husband or a son during WW1. In 1929 this ceremony was adopted by the government and it became a fixed date in the calendar 12 years later. Mother’s Day falls on the last sunday of May, except if it coincides with Pentecost day, in which case it is shifted to the first Sunday of June.

The little girl on the left is my mother in 1941; she was two at the time. She is almost 70 now and is still as caring today as when she became a mom 44 years ago, although in lots of different ways obviously. She lost a son four years ago. Then between August and November 2007 she was part of a group of seven women (relatives and friends) who spent a week in turn with her youngest sister (a widow) who was dying from cancer.

Yet she is blessed with good health and energy, and for the past five years has been driving 35 miles every Thursday to study Ancient Greek with a group of people and a retired teacher. I suppose the challenge and the intellectual satisfaction she gets out of it, as well as a loving husband and two grandchildren, keep her going.