Tuesday, November 18, 2008

French Holidays

I often get asked whether the same holidays are celebrated in France as in Canada. And if so, if they are celebrated in the same manner. So I thought I would start writing an entry describing each of the French holidays as they take place. I'll include statutory and non-statutory holidays, if the latter involves something interesting. I will start with le jour d'Armistice, since it was only last week.

In France, Armistice Day is a public holiday. As is the case with most statutory holidays, large grocery stores remain open and smaller businesses are closed. And as is the case 365 days/year, the boulangeries remain open. A day cannot pass without fresh bread!

Unlike the anglo-saxon tradition (yes, the French still call us anglo-saxons), November 11 strictly celebrates the end of the first world war. France's participation in other wars is not commemorated on this day, yet as there are no WWI veterans remaining in France, there is talk of expanding this practice. Ceremonies are held at large war memorials, usually at the location of battles (ex. Verdun). There are not ceremonies held throughout France, as is the case in Canada. Poppies are not worn, despite the fact that the famous poppy fields are in France and Belgium. In fact, very little is made of Armistice Day in most of France. Maybe that will change if/when they anglo-saxonize the holiday. And yes, I just turned the term anglo-saxon into a verb....

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