Friday, November 1, 2013

Toussaint or All Saints Day


French Village Diaries Toussaint All Saints Day Flowers France Traditions Cemetery
All Saints Day is a busy time for florists in France
Today is All Saints Day and is a public holiday here in France. This doesn't mean a roaring trade for the supermarkets, garden centres and DIY stores as it would in the UK as in our little corner of France bank holidays still mean closures. In the last few years we have noticed that more shops are opening on bank holiday mornings, but it warrants big notices everywhere as it is still considered the exception rather than the rule. Our village boulangerie was particularly fragrant this morning as a long weekend with family calls for extra patisseries. 


French Village Diaries Toussaint All Saints Day Flowers France Traditions Cemetery
Chrysanthemums in the cemetery  
The garden centres, flower shops and market flower stalls have been busy in the run up to today as the French celebrate the lives of loved ones they have lost by leaving beautiful floral tributes at their graves. November 2nd is the actual date to commemorate those who have died, November 1st being reserved for Saints only. However as it is a bank holiday today it makes the visit to the family plot at the village cemetery much easier. In some places candles are still lit and left to glow after dark, but more recently the chrysanthemum has become the popular tribute. Even our relatively small commune cemetery has been bedecked with the beautiful autumnal colours of the huge potted chrysanthemums. There will be a steady flow of cars all weekend, family members arriving to tend the grave and then enjoying a meal together often in the home they or their parents grew up in. It is a very important tradition that seems to be held by the younger generation as well as the older ones.

French Village Diaries Toussaint All Saints Day Flowers France Traditions Cemetery
A war hero's grave stone
Although the chrysanthemum isn’t my favourite of blooms I have to admit to loving the many colourful displays to be seen in France at this time of year. The thing we and many expats have done, but only once, is to buy the chrysanthemums either for some autumnal decoration outside the house or worse as a gift for a French friend. The French really only think of the chrysanthemum as a Toussaint grave decoration and will look at you rather oddly if you dare to use it another way. It is just one of those many things you learn on your expat journey in France.



French Village Diaries Toussaint All Saints Day Flowers France Traditions Cemetery
Our village cemetery