Daily live in France: festivities and holidays

Hans van der Kruijf,  Sunday, 17 September 2017

Bottles of 

Life in France

As if time has stood still, that's the way francophiles prefer to see life in France. A baker who prepares fresh croissants early in the morning. A 2CV driving over a country road lined with sycamore trees. Grape pickers in the vineyards. A village hotel on a small square with a fountain and a Logis de France. And in the evening for a few francs an abundant farmer's meal with wine as much as you like. But that France is becoming increasingly difficult to find, it's retreating in inhospitable corners, on the Auvergne plateaus or in mountain valleys that are difficult to reach and where tourists do not come. The France of TGV, ADSL, SMS, Le Web, Les Hypers, Formula-1, and MacDo is advancing. But don't look at what was, look at what is.


French people love to feast. There is always a reason, but especially a wedding, the football or rugby club championship and the end of the harvesting or picking period are opportunities to take time for a party.
All guests sit down at long tables. There is a large pan Paëlla and of course wine in abundance. An orchestra, a live band, the DJ heighten the atmosphere, and the rest goes naturally. They talk, eat, drink, dance, flirt with someone else's wife, argue, go to bed in the early morning with heavy headaches and argue with someone (quelqu'un), but it is not entirely clear with whom and why.

According to good Catholic practice, France has many holidays:

January 1 is, of course, a holiday, but above all to recover from the evening before. It is done calmly in a domestic setting. At the end of the afternoon, the "best wishes" (bonne anneé) can be repeated in the café.

The Easter days (Paques), beginning with Good Friday (Vendredi Saint), are very suitable for a spring weekend on the road with the family. The fact that the Easter Mass is missed is not a problem.

1 May is the day of work.

Ascension Day (Ascension) is an excellent opportunity to bridge the bridge ("fair le pont") to the following weekend.

Pentecostal (Pentecôte) is the prelude to summer, usually the first opportunity in the year to have a great picnic with the whole family. On special Aires de Picknick are beautiful stone barbeques ready for this purpose - also to prevent forest fires caused by grills' in the wild.

July 14th (quatorze juillet) is one of those days when the unsuspecting tourist suddenly sees a village that was once so sleepy transformed into a kind of Disneyland parade. That this ceremony, unlike on the Champs Elyseés, will consist of the rugby boys, the senior bridge club, the hunting club and the "sapeurs pompiers" with loud sirens, does not detract from the grace with which the mayor with his red-white-blue sashing around the parade on behalf of L' État. And like last year, the mayor emphasized in his speech that Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood are the fixed norms and values of French society in the hectic times of today, worth fighting for, worthy of dying for. After that drink and fireworks make it restless for a long time in that otherwise so sleepy village.

August 15th, an important day of leisure during which many August holidaymakers extend their holidays. Around August 15th is the whole nation on vacation, a great moment to visit sights in peace without long queues. Famous, always full, restaurants can often be served around that period without months-age reservations.

November 1st it is the All Saints (Toussaint). A morbid holiday, because that day the dead are honored with a flower. These are by definition chrysanthemums: It is not appropriate to arrive in France with a bunch of chrysanthemums, except on 1 November in a cemetery.

November 11th is the Armistice Day of the First World War. On 11 November 1918, the Germans signed the truce in a train wagon in Compiegne.

December 25, Christmas Day (Noël). Second Christmas Day didn't exist before but is becoming increasingly popular as a day off. Nevertheless, most shops are open on 2nd Christmas Day. Christmas starts with the mass on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, the enormous Christmas turkey (chapon) is eaten in the family circle.

31 December is Saint Silvestre. Where Christmas is for the family, Saint Silvestre is for friends. People meet on the streets in large groups with vocals and drinks and lots of toasts, but at 12 o' clock there are no fireworks.

Because France has the most days off throughout Europe, there are plans to abolish Easter Monday and Ascension as a day off.

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