Holidays

Bastille Day or Fête de la Fédération in 1792

Bastille Day or Fête de la Fédération was first celebrated in 1790. It was a day set aside to commemorate the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille that occurred on 14 July 1789. That event ushered in the French Revolution and each year thereafter people celebrated their patriotism for their new republic with…

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French New Year’s Etiquette Visits in the Late 1800s

The French loved etiquette and etiquette was applied to such things as courtship, marriage, and death. The French also had etiquette rules when it came to the New Year. It was observed with calls and visits that were made to relatives and certain officials. In fact, according to one twentieth-century etiquette expert, “Not to receive…

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Christmas Tree Folktales and Legends

Many countries have claimed that the Christmas tree originated in their country. Among those are France, the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway and Sweden), and Germany. Accompanying these claims are many legends, and the first of these legends related to the Christmas tree has its roots in the thirteenth century. It comes from a romantic folktale…

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Stories of the Christmas Tree in France

The Christmas tree in France did not gain popularity until the late 1800s. It probably wouldn’t have been popular at all if it had not been for royalty. It is claimed that in the late 1830s the Duchess Helene of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (wife to the eldest son of Louis Philippe I, Ferdinand Philippe of Orléans who…

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Fete de la Toussaint or All Saints’ Day

Fete de la Toussaint or All Saints’ Day is one of the most important holidays in France and overshadows Halloween (something that only in the last 20 years has been celebrated). La Toussaint falls in autumn on 1 November and is a Catholic holy day. It is a day when Frenchmen pay their respects and…

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Origins of April Fools’ Day or France’s April Fish

The first mention of 1 April and foolishness reputedly began with Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales published in 1392. However, his brief mention did not result in April Fools’ Day, and despite the origins of the holiday remaining somewhat obscure, one of the most popular versions of how the holiday originated is attributed to France.…

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A Frenchman’s Opinion of Christmas

Before I begin my Christmas holiday, I wanted to leave you with some thoughts of Frenchman Jean François Victor Aicard. He was born in 1848 and became a poet, dramatist and novelist. When asked his opinion of Christmas, this was his reply: What do I think of Christmas, I, lost child of Provence? Ah, my…

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Halloween in the 1800s

The name “Halloween” evolved over time. It was shortened from All Hallows’ Even and All Hallows Day — the evening of All Hallows’ Day and another name for All Saints’ Day, respectively. Eventually, it was contracted to “Halloween.” Just as the name Halloween evolved, the holiday evolved too. It was initially influenced by Celtic-speaking countries…

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