Post Tagged with "celebrations"

A brand of lighters at the origin of the French Father’s Day

Father’s Day, a celebration that goes back to the Middle Ages

Sunday, June 17, 2012, French children will celebrate Fête des Pères  – Father’s Day and will offer paper neckties and bowties, pencil holders and frames made with love with the re-used cardboard of their cereal boxes or will simply spend a large amount of their pocket money in the many gift shops that offer already made and expensive gifts.

Father’s Day is not a recent invention as it was already celebrated during the Middle Ages in many Catholic countries including France. But it was celebrated on March 19, the day of Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.

Father’s Day re-invented by a brand of lighters

This religious festival was lost over the generations to re-emerge in the 20th century.
Unlike Mother’s Day, which was established to celebrate women of course but also to encourage them to repopulate France after the two world wars, the Fête des Pères was re-invented for purely commercial reasons by a Breton brand of lighters!
Yes, I said a Breton brand of lighters called Flaminaire!

Father's Day gift - paper tie

Father's Day gift - paper tie

Flaminaire commercialised the first conventional lighters in 1908. The lighter, first a luxury object, never ceased to evolve and its use became widespread during the First World War.

At the end of the Second World War consumer society was booming and people discovered the concept of gifts, a move that quickly became a social obligation. As in those times most men smoked, offering a lighter to their Dads for Father’s Day became a standard practice for children. Luminaire invested into a large scale advertising campaign, thus creating the habit of offering a lighter to men.

Father’s Day was instituted in 1952, two years after Mother’s Day became an official celebration, but has never been formalized, even if it is celebrated each year on the third Sunday of June!

In addition to the various gifts, it is also a tradition to offer roses, the symbol flower of Father’s Day but there is a code to follow. Red roses are offered to a father who is alive, and white roses are placed on the grave of a deceased Dad.

Many detractors see in Father’s Day, which is an unofficial celebration, the expression of abusive and tacky marketing and they could be right but Father’s Day celebration is an integral part of our culture and traditions and is primarily an opportunity to show our love and affection to our Dads.

Wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all the French Dads and the others.


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French Mother’s Day – Fête des Mères

April Frost and Three Saints known as Lune Rousse and Saints de Glace in France

May 1st, Labor Day and May Day in France

June 15, 2012 2 comments

French Mother’s Day – Fête des Mères

France celebrates Mother’s Day - Fête des Mères on June 3.

Celebrating women is not a modern concept! It goes back to the Greek mythology when Rhea, the mother of all gods and goddesses was duly celebrated during spring.

The Romans took over the celebration and the cult of Cybele, the mother of all the Roman gods, survived until the 4th century AD!

Ink 96645mm happy mothers day

Mother's Day Card

The French thought of celebrating the Mums and their families as early as in 1806 when Napoleon I intended to implement an official date! But History decided otherwise!

The next attempt to create a Mother’s Day occurred in 1906, a century later, in the little village of Artas in the department of Isère and at the instigation of a man named Prosper Roche who founded the Union Fraternelle in order to pay tribute to the parents of large families.

Artas has since been recognised as the cradle of the French Mother’s  Day celebration.

Mothers Day card

Mother's Day Card

The city of Lyon followed the example and organised a Mother’s Day in 1918 to pay tribute to all the women who lost a son or/and a husband during World War I, a conflict during which the loss in human lives was astronomical.

A couple of years later a Mother’s Day celebrating the women of large families was implemented in order to encourage women to have children and repopulate a country that had lost 10% of its active male population! The celebrations included the award of a medal “Médailles de la Famille Française” to those who had many children.

Mothers' Day Cake crop

Mothers' Day Cake

However, it was not before 1929 that the Fête des Mèresbecame an official celebration.

It didn’t become part of our calendar until 1941, though, when Marshal Pétain re-launched the celebration during World War II, once more in order to encourage the repopulation of the country!

The notion of family and housewife were to become the base of the French society for the years to follow.

The celebration was very controversial at the time, not only because it had been implemented by the Regime of Vichy, but also because many thought that it was a sexist concept that denied emancipation to women, in other words that recognised them only good enough to have children, cook and clean.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day gifts, the way it should be!

Men seemed to forget that women had been working in factories to replace the men who were fighting at the front, they had contributed to the war effort, they had proven that they were equal to men and now they were asked to return to their cooking!

The stigma remained for a few years only as women’s suffrage was granted by General De Gaulle at the end of the war (better late than never!) and they painfully but successfully gained their emancipation!

On May 24, 1950 Mother’s Day was officially decreed by law and fixed to the last Sunday of May and has become one of the most popular French celebrations.

If the last Sunday of May happens to be celebrated on that same Sunday Mother’s Day is then postponed until the first Sunday in June.

Homemade Mother's Day Gift Cookie Bouquet

Mother's Day home-made gift

We all love the Fête des Mères in France!

The only downside is that, like everywhere around the world, it has been taken over by a vulgar mercantilism. Children can’t anymore get away with giving their Mum a little bunch of flowers they picked in the garden or a necklace made with noodles but they have to break their piggy bank to buy a designer item! Perfume is nice, but a noodle necklace made with love is priceless.

Source photos Wikimedia Commons: Photo#1 Happy Mother’s Day Attribution Public Domain Photo#2 Mother’s Day Card Attribution Photo#3 Mothers’ Day Cake Attribution Photo#4 Mother’s Day gifts Attribution Photo#5 Mother’s Day cookie bouquet Attribution


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May 1st, Labor Day and May Day in France

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June 2, 2012 Comments disabled

April Frost and Three Saints known as Lune Rousse and Saints de Glace in France

April Frost – Lune Rousse

In France April Frost is known as Lune Rousse (Ginger Moon). It corresponds to the New Moon that starts after Easter, generally between April 5 and May 5, and lasts of course for the entire cycle of the moon. In 2012 April Frost will last from April 21 to May 20!

Night frost and cold winds are normally paired with this phase which is bad news for gardeners as new shoots get frost –damaged if not protected at night.

French calendar , 11-12-13 May 2011, the Three Saints days are marked with a small SG*, Note that Ste Rolande has been replaced by Fete de jeanne D'Arc

French calendar: 11-12-13 May 2012 with the Saints de Glace marked with a small SG*


May 11, 2012 4 comments

May 1st, Labor Day and May Day in France

May 1st (May Day) is known worldwide as Labor Day, but in France it is also May Day - Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley) when the French greet each other with a sprig (or a small bouquet) of lily of the valley, a flower that is considered a lucky charm.

The tradition dates back to the beginning of the century when unemployed people (the unemployment benefits did not exist and people had to finding ways of making ends meet) went into the woods that were still found in the big cities ‘suburbs to pick lilies of the valley.

C. m. cv. Plena

Lily of the valley, Double-flowered Convallaria majalis


May 1, 2012 5 comments

From our contributors: August 30

This roundup of posts published by our contributors on their personal blogs is now bi-weekly.  Happy reading!

Mike, our contributor from Japan, brings us an impressive photo essay about a cave called Shimuku Gama, located in Yomitan -Okinawa-, where a thousand villagers took refuge during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The monument to two local heroes is, indeed, a sobering sight.

“To appreciate what it must feel like being bombed into the Stone Age it’s probably best to show you this cave from the inside, looking out.  Welcome to a cave called Shimuku Gama in Yomitan Okinawa, Japan.”

Anu, our contributor from India, writes about different religious traditions and celebrations in India, especially those which are new to her. She comes across a new festival by chance while visiting a market. (more…)

August 30, 2011 Comments disabled

From our contributors: 19 July

Another week, another roundup of articles posted by our contributors on their blogs with subjects ranging from prehistoric cave paintings in India to Ocean Day in Japan.


Anu, our contributor from India, visits the prehistoric cave paintings of Anegundi. These fascinating paintings provide a glimpse into the life of our Neolithic ancestors.

“Imagine living like our ancestors, having to struggle for every meal, every piece of covering, even for a roof over the head, not to mention the dangers lurking around every corner! And yet they persevered, though it took centuries for things to change, for them to evolve!”


July 19, 2011 Comments disabled