HOW TO CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY THE FRENCH WAY

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, many of you are, no doubt, rushing about to plan the perfect day for Mum. We, at the Bastille Day French Festival, have a bit of information on how to celebrate Mother’s day à la française and have recommendations for the perfect place to celebrate with Maman this year.

Did you know that Mother’s Day is celebrated in most of the French-speaking world on a different day to Australia? In France, Mother’s Day or La Fête des Mères takes place on the last Sunday in May, unless Pentecost happens to fall on that same day (in which case is celebrated the following Sunday). This year it will be celebrated on the 30th of May.

The creation of Mother’s Day, in France, dates back to the 1800s. At the turn of the twentieth century, there were various attempts to create a national celebration honouring the mothers of large families. However, it was not until after World War I that the festival gained momentum. In fact, the modern holiday was, in large part, brought over by American soldiers stationed in France during the War, as the festival had been celebrated in the States since the beginning of the century. In the 1920s, the French government created a festival called Journée des mères de Familles nombreuses (Day for Mothers of Large Families) and awarded a medal to mothers who had given birth to many children. In 1950, La fête des mères was codified as an official tribute to mothers. However, Mother’s Day is considered an ‘observance’ and therefore is not classified as an official public holiday.

In practice, the festival is celebrated in much the same way as in Australia. School-aged children make gifts for their mothers in school; presents gifted from older children traditionally include a bouquet of flowers, perfume, chocolates and jewellery.

French mothers are, of course, treated to breakfast in bed. A traditional breakfast consists of something light and sweet; breakfast is not considered a greatly important meal in France. Pain-grillé (toast) served with butter and jam, yoghurt, and pastries are popular staples for a Mother’s day breakfast.

Breakfast is accompanied by a hot drink, the most popular being coffee. France is famously a coffee-drinking nation – after all, ‘café’ is just the French word for ‘coffee’.  The stereotype of the French drinking un petit espresso is pretty accurate, though some prefer a café au lait which unlike its Italian cousin contains no milk froth. Tea is also popular, though it is a more perfumed variety than we take here in Australia. French brands like Mariage Frères and Kusmi Tea specialise in this floral style of tea. Tea and coffee are often served in a small bowl rather than a mug. That’s a lot of caffeine for one morning!

The rest of the day is usually a relaxed one, spent together as a family. It is common to plan a special outing maybe a nice dinner or family picnic.

Here are the Bastille Day French Festival’s recommendations for French cafés that would be perfect for a Mother’s day brunch:

Bon Ap Petit Bistro – 193 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065

The Hardware Société – 10 Katherine Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000

Chez Mademoiselle – 123a Greville St, Prahran VIC 3181

If you are still looking for a petit cadeau for Mum, Koko Black is always a safe bet. With eight stores around Melbourne, they are the perfect place to pick up a little delicious something. They also offer contactless online pick-up, and free delivery for orders over $100.

Nous vous souhaitons une joyeuse fête des mères (We wish you a Happy Mother’s Day)

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