Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Toussaint...All Saints' Day

Today, 1st November is All Saints' Day and here in France is a public holiday. It's strange how this secular country with its clear separation between Church and State is quite willing to recognise religion when it means a holiday. Or is that me being cynical?

The day has been a holy one for time out of mind with the ancient Celts celebrating the first day of their New Year on the 1st November. The date and feast were then adopted by the early Christians who chose to gather together all their saints and martyrs and commemorate them with a group feast day.

In France the custom is for families to tend the graves of their dead and shops are full of chrysanthemums for that purpose. The cemetries are always beautiful and often the graves and tombs are covered in candles and those little tea lights. It's very moving.

A friend was invited to lunch with her neighbours one Toussaint and seeing all the beautiful pots of chrysanthemums in the shop bought one for her hostess who was surprised to be given a grave offering. Oh these foreigners. Clueless!

PS This is my first post for National Blog Posting Month. Does it matter that I'm blogging from France?

10 comments:

dirty dingus said...

You know I've been living in the S of France for 7 hears and I never yet clicked on why people were selling Chrysanthemums at the end of October. Thanks muchly for the explanation fellow expat in the PACA!

dirty dingus said...

7 years even

Anonymous said...

No, I noticed how "religious" they can be when it comes to holidays. It is very strange, isn't it? By the way, I just love French cemetries!

charlotte said...

hi there ... we've had the day off for All Saint's Day in Germany too. We didn't go to church, but we did go kite-flying. Good luck with NaBloPoMo! I'm giving it a go too, even though I'm international like you.

b/sistersshoes said...

I love hearing what is going on in France...your part of France.

The graves are lovely...never thought I'd say that around Halloween ? :)

love to you,
xxx darlene

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

The gift of chrysanthemums is hilarious! Oh for cultural naiveté!

Jenorama said...

I do the international edition of Blogging Baby sleepover. I found you through NaBloPoMo, and I am so happy I did! I am going to feature you (and a few of your friends!) tonight!

The Sam said...

Popping by and felt I had to leave a comment. Found you on NaBloPoMo.
You know we Catholics have to go to church on All Saints Day or we go to Hell. That's why my boyfriend is avoiding his mothers calls today. He's doomed to damnation and hasn't the heart to tell her.

Anonymous said...

It's the same in the Netherlands - devoid of religion, yet follow such holidays, well, religiously.

Good luck with NaBloPoMo! I'm right there with you.

Anonymous said...

How can you live in a country for 7 years and not know about a key cultural and religious tradition? Amazing!