Monday, June 9, 2014

Fight for your Right to Party

Like the United States, France adheres to a strict separation of church and state.

Except, not really.

For instance, today is a national holiday. Why? Because it’s Pentecost weekend. And last week there was no school on Thursday… because it was the Ascension. The Monday after Easter is always a national holiday as well. 

If you ask a French person why these are national holidays, when technically, Catholic (not necessarily cultural) holidays aren’t supposed to be sited or celebrated by a government when there’s a true division of church and state, they just shrug. Doesn’t seem to matter much to them, as long as they get their long weekend. To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me, either. I figure, at least, the government is honest about the true nature of their holidays, and don’t try to cover it up by calling it something else or putting emphasis on a non-religious reason for the day off…

Minor Catholic/Pagan holidays are also celebrated in lesser degrees that aren’t official national holidays but are widely-known cultural traditions. Like the cutting of the ‘King’s Cake’ containing hidden figurines on the day of the Epiphany. The exchanging of ‘lily of the valley’ flowers on May 1st. Or the Chandeleur when everyone makes and eats crepes. Then there’s Mardi Gras, of course,- a time to pig out or go drinking to get all your vices out before the beginning of Lent. Some of these are internationally celebrated holidays. Others are only celebrated in France or French provinces.

In deeper, more rural parts of France, there are carnivals and festivals and traditions that date back to before Catholicism even arrived. Bon fires, the throwing of fiery disks, lanterns, parades and masquerades, etc…rituals that managed to remain intact despite the passage of time. How do I know this? The national news covers them regularly, during their afternoon broadcasts dedicated to cultural heritage. And I have to say, it’s interesting stuff!

So, as bummed as I was yesterday, when I realized the kids had yet another day off school this week, I have to say I’m grateful to live in such a culturally and historically rich nation.

What are some of your favorite low-key holidays? I noticed an increasing excitement about May 5th in the U.S. these last few years, even though I don’t remember celebrating cinco de mayo when I was younger because... we’re not Mexican, but what the heck… Sometimes any reasons a good reason to party:)

15 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Yes, cinco de mayo is gaining in popularity here, because it's an excuse to party. That seems to be the key: Can we drink and eat on this holiday? Then, yeah man, we're on board. But we don't hide figurines in cake or throw flaming disks, which sounds cool. Why don't we have one of those kinds of holidays?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Why else do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day but to party?
Around here, a lot of businesses shut down either for Good Friday or for Easter Monday. Since Easter is always on a Sunday, that last one confuses me...

Hart Johnson said...

Talk Like a Pirate Day!!! *cough* Okay, maybe that is just my fellow nerds... I DO like El Cinco de Mayo and have since I was in Jr. High. We learned about it in Spanish class and it was a fun excuse for a 'class makes food' day, which you KNOW kids love.

Jay Noel said...

It was National Donut Day here in the States last week, but I don't eat them anymore. But sheesh, lots of people went do-nutty over it!

Mother's Day has become a staple, even though there's no day off since it's a Sunday.

Memorial Day was just celebrated here too, although many people mistake it for Veteran's Day. Yes, they both celebrate our armed forces, but Memorial Day is to remember those who died.

And we just had the anniversary of D-Day. Very important to the US and France.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Personally I like any holiday where we get a free extra day off work. Some of the festivals in smaller French towns sound fun.

SA Larsenッ said...

Ooh, I'm so glad Dianne said it first. I just came back from a long walk and my brain isn't working enough to spell that. LOL

B.E. Sanderson said...

Since Hubs retired, holidays are pretty much like any other day. (Or every day is a holiday?) We celebrate what we like and skip what we don't. And by celebrate, I mean eat stuff we don't normally have. Ham for Christmas, turkey for Thanksgiving, extra candy for Halloween, etc. Woohoo. We're such party animals. ;o)

D.G. Hudson said...

If it's a holiday, enjoy it, don't worry about why. . .when you work full time, it's good to have a day away from the work location.

I think it's always been 'any excuse to party' for many people. It's their way of showing respect for other cultures. . .

Those church and state separation lines are blurred a lot in the US and Canada, too.

Matthew MacNish said...

My company has a new parent company/owner this year, and we got the day off for Good Friday. I found it odd, but of course I wasn't going to complain!

Jennifer Kreft said...

I'm looking forward to "Last Day of School Day" on Friday. Lord knows I'll be partying!

Kristin Lenz said...

This is completely off topic, but I'm catching up on blog reading after a bit of a break so I'm just now seeing your new design. The drawing at the top of your blog is hilarious and so perfect. Cheers!

mshatch said...

I'm on board with any holiday that offers a paid day off but as far as US holidays go, they're mostly boring (imo), except the 4th of July which tends to have some pretty fun parades and Halloween, of course! Your holidays sound much more interesting.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I don't really celebrate holidays anymore; somehow they seemed more fun when I was younger. I'd like to go to Chinatown in New York (or better yet, China) during the Chinese New Year and watch them do the Dragon Dance. I watched it in Chicago's Chinatown and it was cool.

Mark Murata said...

The 5th of May was when Mexico repelled an invasion from France. No, really.
It's not celebrated much in Mexico. It's celebrated more here in America as an excuse to drink beer in Mexican restaurants.

Nicole L Rivera said...

We celebrate Cinco de Mayo for the guacamole. Yum ;)

I like Halloween. Dress up and get a bunch of candy. I'm in. ;) … And when I was young my grandmother would make me my fav--pumpkin pie. Mmmm.

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