November 3, 2010

La Toussaint

On the day after Halloween, I learned why I have been on vacation for 1.5 weeks. All French holidays have a name, and this one is La Toussaint. Due to my astute powers of observation, I figured out that La Toussaint had something to do with flowers, as all of a sudden they were a prominent feature in the stores. Other than that, though, I figured it was just a nice little break.

During lunch on November 1st, I announced to FBF “Oh! C’est la dia de los muertos!”

He looked at me rather confused and said, “Quoi?” (What?) as he doesn’t speak Spanish.

I used my excellent translation skills and said, “La journée des morts? The day of the dead.”

“Ah, oui, je sais,” (oh, yes, I know) he replied. I was confused at first how someone who had never taken Spanish would ever learn about the day of the dead, but apparently France and Mexico have this day in common. Although in Mexico it is a much bigger deal and involves cool skeletons (at least from what I gathered in high school Spanish), in France November 1st is also a day of remembering loved ones who have passed on.

That afternoon, FBF’s sister came to pick us up, and we went to the cemetery. It was beautiful. The sun was setting, turning the sky a pinkish orange, the air was cool and crisp, and upon every tombstone there lay several bouquets of flowers. We placed some flowers on the graves of FBF’s family members, I stood around awkwardly, and then we were on our way back home.

The cemetery.

Although I wasn’t sure how to act, I think it would be nice if we followed up our day of parading about in costumes with a day of remembering the family members who are no longer with us.


  1. Yes,it's a wonderful idea. Made me cry.

  2. I think the idea of a "day of the dead" is a pretty common one in a lot of societies besides our own (Canadian & American). Why? I'm not sure. But yes, remembering people is a good idea. Kind of odd that we only really have a day for remembering those who died in the wars, but not also for people who just have passed on in general. Hmm...

  3. Actually la Toussaint is la fête de "tous les saints" (saints day) and it's one day before la commémoration des fidèles défunts (all souls day). Tomorrow both are more or less mixed together by the common usage.

  4. @Joel: Yeah, I hadn't even thought about the whole remembering people who died in wars but not others thing! It's so true. I guess that's probably because I don't have any family members who passed on during a war.

    @Julien: Thanks for the clearification! I figured Toussaint was all saints day, as that is how you translate it, but I didn't realize there were two holidays!


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