France

Saint-Valentin – Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the celebration of Love and French people, as millions of people around the world, will be offering chocolates and other gifts to show their love for each other.

The Church of Rome, the Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate Saint Valentin or Valentine’s Day on February 14, but the origins of this beautiful tradition go back to Pagan times.

Antique Valentine 1909 01

Valentine's day greeting card (Wikimedia Commons)

Valentinus was an early Christian martyr from Rome who was jailed around 270AD not only for helping other Christians escape persecution but for carrying out clandestine weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, as Emperor Claudius believed that married men could not make good soldiers!

Any Christian sacrament was anyway outlawed by the Roman Empire.

The legend has it that Valentinus started the tradition of the Heart symbol by giving away to the newly married a piece of parchment cut out in the shape of a heart and inscribed with the registration of their vows.

According to the legend he also started the tradition of sending a greeting card to the loved one.

He is said to have healed the blind daughter of his jailer, and the miracle he performed resulted in the conversion to Christianity of the jailer and his extensive family.

Before his execution on February 14, Valentinus, who had fallen in love with the young girl (who by then had recovered her sight and could read) sent her a farewell note signed “from your Valentine.”

Another symbol of Valentine’s Day (which has nothing to do with Valentinus though but is most likely related to ancient Pagan rituals) is Cupid, the little winged God of Desire, Affection and Love who is also known in Latin as Amor and in Greek as Eros.

I don’t know what Valentinus would have thought if he had known that one day he would be linked to Cupid-Eros…

Source photo Wikimedia Commons

 

Read more

Summer solstice celebrations in France

French Mother’s Day – Fête des Mères

Canadian honeymoon

February 13, 2013 Comments disabled

From our contributors: January 22, 2013

This is what our contributors have written on their personal blogs. Go have a look!

DeeBee, our contributor from France, published an article about the Bayeux Tapestry, in which she explains the historical background, how it was made and its fascinating history.

When talking about Normandy one immediately thinks of the WWII Landing Beaches and the Tapestry of Bayeux! Two different types of invasions 950 years or so apart! The Tapestry de Bayeux is in fact not a tapestry but a long embroidered linen cloth depicting the Conquest of England by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy. The impressive hanging is embroidered with coloured woollen yarns depicting around fifty scenes with captions of the Conquest.

Flotte normande (source: wikimedia.org)

Flotte normande (source: wikimedia.org)

LeX, our contributor from Malaysia, wrote about a charity campaign called “Inspire Travel Young” that aims to provide eye-care to disadvantaged people in poor countries.

For that reason, I decided to be part of the charity campaign called “Inspire Travel Young” “Enabling Other Seeing” as to help other seeing especially for those that still fighting for it. Seeing is Believing, Non profit organization doing a great job by helping other seeing.
People that live in the poorer countries have difficulty to access eye-care and prevention program due to the financial constrain and not always given the attention it deserves. Statistically, 80% of blindness being avoidable, and 60% of children dying within a year of going blind, that’s one of the strong reason why we should support this charity campaign.

Anu, our contributor from India, wrote about a visit to Daulatabad fort, a once impregnable fort, in the state of Maharashtra.

As the passage curves yet again and the guide disappears from view, there is a sudden rush to catch up with him….. The passage still fulfills the purpose it was built for, all those centuries ago – to scare and confuse the enemy caught within its walls. We are at the Daulatabad fort, in the passage known as the Andheri – literally, the dark passage.

Read more

First blog post roundup of the year

From our contributors: November 26

From our contributors: October 27

January 22, 2013 Comments disabled

Childhood memories of the holiday season

Our contributors share their childhood memories of the holidays. Some feelings and experiences transcend borders and nationalities: families gathered around long tables laden with food, chatter and laughter.

Traditional English Christmas dinner

Sean, contributor from the United Sates.

My mom is the oldest of 11 brothers and sisters, and almost all of them have multiple children.  It’s a big German-American, Catholic farm family. Almost the entire mom’s side of my family goes out to her parents’ farm house, for a family dinner and to open presents afterwards.  Once the cousins started being born (20+ of them), the gifts under the tree began to take up as much as 1/3 of the entire living room!

My grandma, with the help of my aunts, would prepare the Christmas feast, which always included: a whole roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy (with and without giblets), stuffing (with and without oysters), green bean casserole, ham, various salads, occasionally sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, cherry pie, “buckeye” candies, and lots of whip cream to go with.  My uncles provide homebrewed wine to drink, along with more common domestic American beers (and sometimes whisky).

It’s been fun to watch everyone grow up over the years; 15 of my cousins are within about 7 years of each other in age, so when I was in my early teens and the other cousins were getting to be around 9-10, they were a rambunctious group!  We’d occasionally take shotguns out back and target shoot, though usually it was just a lot of eating and talking.

In the US, at holiday dinners there is commonly a “kids’ table”, where the children would sit and eat with one or two adults watching them. I remember being really happy to graduate to the adults’ table.  My grandparents have been living in the same house, on the same farm, since the 1930’s and 40’s.  My grandma finally said “no” to hosting Thanksgiving this year. It’s going to be strange when this tradition is over, and we all separate and start our own Christmas traditions.

DeeBee, contributor from France

My most cherished memory of Christmas is waiting for Father Christmas or the Père Noël as we call him in France to come down the chimney!

Every year I would place a glass of milk for him and a carrot for his reindeer under the Christmas tree and would settle on the sofa with my teddy bear, both tucked under a duvet, by the fireplace, ready for him…

And every year I would be determined to surprise him, but would struggle to keep my eyes open, would fall asleep… and wake up the following morning in my bed!

My disappointment at not catching him was quickly replaced, though, by my excitement at discovering the pile of presents he had left for me!

All I knew is that he and his reindeer must have enjoyed the little presents I had left for them as the glass was empty and the carrot was gone!

I have always associated the magic of Christmas to this moment along with the unique fragrance of the fir tree and the warmth and cozy sitting room of my childhood.

Each of my Christmas has been Merry!

Ana, contributing editor from Argentina

My memories of Christmas are all about family around the dinner table. We celebrate Christmas Eve with a big dinner and open the presents at the stroke of midnight. When we were little and still believed in Santa, an adult would suggest all the kids went outside to gaze at the stars and try to spot Santa. Meanwhile, somebody would frantically get the presents and put them under the tree. Then, we would be herded back inside to open the presents that sneaky Santa left while we were outside looking for him! It was great fun.

Read more

Christmas around the world

Christmas in Costa Rica: a delightful tome of traditions

Rangoli – colourful Indian chalk paintings 

 

December 26, 2012 1 comment

Picture Postcards: A Parisian doorway


This great shot was sent in by our contributor from France, DeeBee.

Read more:
French Roundabouts
Windmills in France
The Bouquinistes- Booksellers along the Seine River

November 11, 2012 Comments disabled

Suzanne et Pierre à Paris blog

View of the Grand Boulevard by Suzanne Levasseur

Suzanne Levasseur and Pierre Richer are originally from Abitibi and Montreal (Canada) although they lived in Toronto for 25 years. One day they decided go on an adventure and start a new life in Paris, France. They started their blog as a means of communicating with their friends and family and documenting their new life. Suzanne et Pierre à Paris is a bilingual blog. Each post is written in French and in English for the benefit of their family members and friends who speak those languages.

The Suzanne et Pierre à Paris blog is divided into five user-friendly categories:1) Vie à Paris / Life in Paris, 2) Les quartiers / Districts, 3) Les Environs / Ouside 4) Voyages / Trips and 5) Preparation. They help the reader navigate the blog and follow Suzanne and Pierre’s preparations for the big adventure, know about their daily life in Paris, go with them (virtually) on the trips they take and get to know the beautiful city of Paris: its quartiers (neighbourhoods) and beyond. They also publish beautiful photos on their Flickr account.

 

Read more

Neha: from Mumbai to Zagreb

Brazilian Paradise blog

West of Buenos Aires blog

 

 

 

 

October 23, 2012 Comments disabled

French roundabouts

Circular junctions existed long before the creation of modern roundabouts, these marvelous circular junctions that make driving so much easier…or at least we like to think so!

This roundabout is in fact in Flanders, just at the boundary with France

The first French roundabout was the Place de l’Etoile in Paris that was created in 1854 and which circles the impressive Arc de Triomphe that was erected to celebrate the Napoleonic victories.

The creation of that circular junction, though, was not to ease the traffic of horse-drawn carts in Paris but just to showcase the arch, to make sure that it was visible from any direction!

Roundabout advertising a local chair factory

Modern roundabouts are a British invention as they were developed by the United Kingdom Transport Research Laboratory in the 1960’s.

The efficiency of the design proved very successful as all “traditional” French crossroads are steadily being converted into roundabouts.

Advertising an annual Jazz Festival

Not only are they “driver friendly”, they also become true works of art and it seems that each municipality competes of inventiveness not only to create the most attractive roundabout but also the one that will be the best promotion for the local industry, annual music festival or anything that needs to be shown and seen…

The zoo is not very far...

Here is a short selection of some of my favourite roundabouts.

Read more

Louis Vuitton flat-bottom trunks

Carrousels – Merry-go-rounds

Windmills in France 

September 26, 2012 Comments disabled