No, Mother’s Day was not invented by Marshal Pétain

You don’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day – it’s your right – and you hide behind the argument:

“It’s an invention of Marshal Pétain, a legacy of the Vichy regime. »

why is it wrong

It is giving a lot of credit to Marshal Pétain to attribute to him the creation of a holiday which is celebrated in more than 130 countries in the world, according to the count of Wikipedia.

Many civilizations devote a cult to motherhood, which could take various forms (matronalia in the Roman Empire, cult of Rhea in ancient Greece), most often in spring, the period of fertility.

An axis of the pronatalist policy

The United States established Mother’s Day in 1908. In France, several events celebrated mothers of large families: in 1906 in Artas (Isère), in 1918 in Lyon… The objective was then to repopulate the country decimated by the First World War by promoting the birth rate, relatively low in France since the end of the 19th centurye century. A medal of the French family was created in 1920 and Mother’s Day was fixed by decree on the fourth Sunday in May, from 1926. This pronatalist policy, which transcended partisan divisions, also explains the law prohibiting contraception and abortion in 1920, as well as the creation of family allowances in 1932.

From 1941, the collaborationist regime of Marshal Pétain gave a new dimension to this celebration, which is part of his ideology “work, family, homeland”, by involving children. As historian Françoise Thébaud explains, on the site of Madam Figaro, “Vichy will ask the schools to prepare for Mother’s Day with the students. Posters, speeches, mobilization of the press… the regime will systematize the celebration of this holiday. »

commercial party

At the Liberation, Mother’s Day did not fall into oblivion. On the contrary, its celebration has been enshrined in a law, May 24, 1950which states that “The French Republic officially pays tribute every year to French mothers. »

The celebration then became a commercial event, soon joined by Father’s Day in 1950, then Grandmother’s Day in 1987. In a Ipsos poll, 59% of people surveyed say they give a gift to their mother, for an average budget of 40 euros. Unsurprisingly, nearly a quarter opt for flowers.

Not in the curriculum

Traditionally, this holiday remains widely celebrated in kindergartens and primary schools, through poems or gifts made by children. After the adoption of marriage for all in 2013, controversies erupted as some establishments chose to replace these gendered parties with more inclusive celebrations of “parents” or “people we love”.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, then Minister of National Education, had recalled, in a written question posed to the National emblythat there was “no ministerial instruction regarding the work carried out by children on the occasion of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day. These works are not included in the school curriculum.. »

Anne-Ael Durand

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