The Translation of Grandmother’s Day

By / 18 January 2015 / Professional translation

Celebrating grandmothers: a tardy official translation

In 1877, Victor Hugo published The Art of being a Grandfather (L’Art d’être grand-père [1]), a collection of poems translating the wonder he felt at the innocence of his grandchildren Jeanne and George. Nevertheless, still in France, the translation of Grandmother’s Day into practice only occurred in the 1980s and Grandfather’s Day was first celebrated in the 2000s there.

The translation of Grandmother’s or Grandparent’s Day?

To be precise, grandmothers have had their own official holiday since 1987 although it has only lately appeared on almanacs and calendars. Whereas in a number of other countries, both grandmothers and grandfathers are celebrated on the same day, in France, the first Sunday in March is dedicated to grandmothers and, since 2008 [2], the first one in October to their spouses.

The Translation of Grandmother's Day - Chris Marchant, Grandmother (Flickr)

The Translation of Grandmother’s Day – Chris Marchant, Grandmother (Flickr)

In Italian, the translation of Grandparent’s Day is hence “Festa dei nonni”, while the translation of Grandparents’ day in Spanish is “Día del abuelo”. In French, the translation of Grandparents’ Day is “Fête des grands-parents”.

The translation of grandmother’s day: revealing of a world order

Renewing the translation of Mother and Father’s Days

All these decidedly literal translations of Grandmother’s Day are indicative of holidays lacking any national specificity. The only difference in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK is the label pinned to these days.

How surprising is this really? In France, Grandmother’s Day mainly stems from the commercial roots the multinational firm Kraft Jacobs Suchard gave it when it dreamt up a holiday designed to ensure the promotion of a nowadays famous brand of “French” coffee.

The Translation of Grandmother's Day - Myosotis (Wikimedia)

The Translation of Grandmother’s Day – Myosotis (Wikimedia)

Translating into practice a dream of intergenerational dialogue

Mothers turned grandmothers are hence doubly privileged by holidays which are a reminder not only of their specific status within the institutions of family and society, but also of a transnational economic and cultural order.

Indeed, grandmothers, just like grandfathers, those missing out in this matter, are a living memory we are too often reticent to call upon. The translation of Grandmother’s Day into practice can hence become an opportunity to renew an ever rarer intergenerational dialogue [5] in an age of single-generation households.

Let’s reverse Hugo’s initiative, marvel at our forefathers and seek counsel from them!

Sources and photo credits

[1] – V. Hugo, L’Art d’être grand-père (webpage in French, a Mytranslation language)
[2] – Grandfather’s day: it’s origins (webpage in French, a Mytranslation language)
[3] – Chris Marchant, Grandmother (Flickr)
[4] – Wikimedia: Myosotis victoria
[5] – Tête à modeler: factsheet on Grandmother’s day

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