Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Valentine PackageI got a care package today from my belle-mere.. an envelope of stuff for Valentine's Day --a table cloth, cards, and puzzles. Although the French are amorous, they do not believe in Valentine's Day for children. There is really nothing to buy in the stores for the kids. Nothing. I've looked and looked. About the closest you get are these cookies.
My second year here, I pushed for a Valentine's Day party in my son's English class. I called every mother to ask her to bring something in for the party and to have their child prepare Valentine's Day cards. One of the French mothers informed me that it is not a day celebrated by children, just adults. I have found that to be the general attitude here.
Valentine's Day passes in school here like any other day. There are no Valentine's Day cards to send to your 'sweetheart' in class. There are no boxes of sweet tart candies saying 'You're cute!' to give to classmates. There are no lace heart doilies to use when making a card for your mother. I know. I've looked.
My children have lived here for nearly 5 years. They have no idea what happens on Valentine's Day in the US (I assume giving cards to everyone in class is still done?). But I miss all those things for them. If you're in the 16th, my apartment is the one with hearts on the windows (thanks belle-mere..).
-- said Auntie M in Paris
# posted by Janna : 12:23 AM
# posted by Anonymous : 9:12 AM
# posted by Oz : 9:43 AM
(You know I'm kidding, right? :P)
# posted by ViVi : 9:47 AM
Well, here's a website for the kid's to enjoy (en francais): http://www.coindespetits.com/stvalentin/stvalentin0.html
# posted by RighteousBiche : 10:26 AM
Then, it was middle school, when kids could buy you "lollygrams" (write a note on a paper and have it delivered to you during homeroom, attached to a lollypop), but at that point, no one was obligated to send you one, so the whole thing became a lot more stressful.
I dunno, somehow I think kids are saved from a lot of stress and heartache by not doing this here. I'd much rather see them get a real understanding of Halloween.
# posted by kim : 10:38 AM
Yes, raising American kids in France means doing without Valentine's Day, among other things (smile). It's only recently (10 years or so) that Hallow'een has been celebrated in France, for example. I remember in the early 1980s going from farm to farm and village market to village market in Normandy at the end of October to find a suitably round pumpkin for a Jack O'Lantern. Now, of course, one can find pumpkins everywhere when All Hallows' Eve rolls around.
One thing I found that kids need to know, en passant ... American sports ! My son wasn't up on "baseball": the first time he went to the USA they threw him a glove and said "Play right field, OK ?". He was lost. Glove ? Right field ? (Why is it "right" and not "wrong" ?) How does one hold this "bat" ? Same for US football. When asked if was a "linebacker" or "safety", he was perplexed indeed. (smile)
# posted by L'Amerloque : 10:45 AM
# posted by Pat : 1:22 PM
Jason, I understand from other Americans that the kids are generally really happy to go to an American school after being here in France... probably for a variety of reasons... but including having a little more fun in school.
Oz, I would say that there is an expectation for teacher gifts twice a year -- December and June -- at my school.
Vivi, And no Thanksgiving!
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 1:38 PM
Kim, Yeah. I remember counting Valentine's Day cards too and being disappointed if someone got more. It's true...
L'A, Sports! We've brought a wiffle ball and bat over here, so the kids have a small sense of baseball. They've also been to a game in the US. However, football is still a mystery to my kids... although they know it exists because they play 'football'/soccer here and we tell them it is a different sport in the US.
Pat, Of course, you have a good point. It's just that I fondly remember sharing cards with my classmates and making cards for my parents. Things are a bit crazy with the holiday commercialism in the US, I agree.
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 2:00 PM
What? Eight euros is too much for baking powder?? :-)
The Real McCoy I went once because FIL wanted Philadelphia Cream Cheese. That cheesecake must have cost me 30 euros!
# posted by RighteousBiche : 5:28 PM
# posted by BohemianMama : 6:36 PM
BM, Sounds like you are in the same boat as us then. I've had a Valentine's Day party in the past and would like to have a few friends over again this year. Of course, I love parties, even if they aren't for me.
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 6:48 PM
# posted by pismire : 8:19 PM
# posted by Anonymous : 5:11 AM
In France, it's a celebration very sacred for lovers... I mean it's all and just about love. The love. That's it. So not for kids, for pets, or for others family members for what is worth.
It's the day to show your mutual affection as lovers who have a commitment. It's really deep, in fact. And it's in the tradition of romantisme, of french lovers.
Why steal this celebration from lovers ??
In France, kids have other celebrations like, I don't know, like "Chandeleur", "Mardi Gras", now "Halloween" and so on... I'm alaways choked and I see all those cards in Hallmark about Valentine's Day... It's not the true meaning... At least, for frenchs...
# posted by Jérôme : 4:55 PM
Jerome, I always appreciate your French perspective. It really helps me to understand where the French are coming from on these issues. I might just add... Chadeleur? Is that really a major holiday? I read an article about it in French class last year, but I have never heard anyone actually celebrate the holiday here. I guess Ground Hogs Day in the US is a poor substitute for you!
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 8:25 AM
# posted by Coquette : 10:34 PM
We have celebrated "Chandeleur" for over a quarter of a century. Crepes on February 2nd are the _very best_ crepes of the entire year. (smile) It is a major French holiday in French families. We know many, many older families which do make the crepes - especially if there are young kids. It is, however, falling out of favor among the younger families. The lack of gold coins must be contributing to the loss of tradition, too. (smile)
# posted by L'Amerloque : 3:39 PM
More informations :
Chandeleur History (in french, sorry).
# posted by Jérôme : 9:22 PM
# posted by Anonymous : 4:29 PM