Grandmothers … those diminutive, crinkly individuals who look after the kids when the parents are at work. Always vaguely pink and shiny, smelling of toilet water and wrapped in numerous layers of clothing in winter and summer alike. Presumably we’ve all had one or two grans in our time and, one day (for female readers at least) we might become grandmothers.
Today in France, families everywhere are celebrating Grandmothers’ Day. As with all such “lobby” days, there is no real religious, cultural or historical basis for the occasion, this is yet another of those “traditions” invented by clever marketing executives – a ploy to get us to spend yet more money on those we love because we love them. A bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates and a card for your Gran – that’s not going to break the bank – of course, this «invented» tradition comes hard on the heals of that other most commercial of celebrations: Valentine’s Day. (and then you did break the bank).
You might have though that Grandmother’s day was the brainchild of a greeting card manufacturer or a sweet company or even a national chain of florists – the idea though was thought up by a coffee company – the very aptly named «Cafés Grand’Mère» part of the Kraft Jacobs Suchard group. (Not sure if you’ll be buying much coffee on Grandmothers’ day, but you’ll certainly be buying plenty of chocolates, which will have the sales executives at Suchard smiling big chocolatey smiles.)
Since it’s first «outing» in 1987, Grandmothers’ Day has been celebrated the first Sunday in March. It took a few years for the trend to take off, but after some serious lobbying of calendar makers by the publicity department at Cafés Grand’Mère, the festival has become a tradition – Yes, just like Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, Grannies too now have their official day marked into most of the nation’s calendars and diaries – and with 7 million grannies in France, it is big business.
A thought though, for those with no vested commercial interest in this new tradition – the nation’s nursery and primary school teachers, who have spent hours over the last couple of weeks churning out «grandmother» presents with their kids during art and craft lessons – from experience (my mum was a primary school teacher for a few years) I know just how hard it can be to find inspiration for easy-to-make and not-too-crap Mothers’ Day and Fathers day presents – however, what the hell do you make for a Granny? Paper flowers, cards, bookmarks, hand-painted boxes for the keeping of useful trinkets therein …. in the case of the latter it is often the teacher who ends up re-hand painting all the boxes so that they don’t look too awful. Teachers – your reputation is on the line here.
To end, I would ask that in this land of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, that (in the name of equality) the government react and forthwith proclaim a national Grandfathers’ Day to be held … erm, looks like someone has beat me to it actually – there is already an official Grandfathers’ Day that falls on the first Sunday in October. This is not a joke or a masculin backlash, merely yet another marketing ploy – the brainchild of the French postal service – an effort to get us all to send more cards.