During this time we will see the schools breaking up for the Toussaint vacances scolaires – All Saints’ Day. The French pupils will be off for a period of two weeks (the same time in all zones) which will include Halloween on 31 October and All Saints’ Day on 1 November or as some like to refer to it as ‘the day of the dead’.
Now Halloween is not celebrated as it is in the USA or in the UK. Yes, you can buy pumpkins and halloween costumes etc in stores such as Gifi, Action and the major supermarkets. However, there is not a culture of trick o treating on doors.
Our Trick O Treaters on horseback here in Sourdeval!
We had our very own ‘name the pumpkin’ competition
It has become marginally more popular in the last 5 years but this is not a holiday that comes naturally to the French. You will see children dressed up walking around the shops and calling in to receive a sweet. And it literally is one or two sweets and not a massive handful! This is usually done in the daylight hours as the shops shut at 7pm.
There maybe some events going on at local attractions and indeed in the bigger towns or cities like Caen, Rouen etc. But if you want to celebrate halloween, like you are used to, you will need to organise something fun at home to carry on that tradition.
The following day is when the French will visit deceased loved ones in the graveyards and place flowers, Chrysanthemums, on top of the gravestone and the surrounding area is also tended to. You will see many florists selling these flowers and they will be in abundance along the walls of cemeteries. It really is a sight to behold.
It is also a Bank Holiday and many places will be shut. It is a quiet day of remembrance and some choose to take the following day off work – the 2nd of November is le Jour des Morts – All Souls’ Day. This day is when people pray for the souls of the deceased. Although this is not a Bank Holiday.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of information surrounding this time of year and remember, never bring Chrysanthemums to your neighbours as they are associated with death, which isn’t the case in other countries!