31 December 2011

Champagne for Everyone!

It will 2012 in Paris in less than 7 hours!

Whatever shall I do for New Year's Eve? (if I were in Paris)
Well for one thing, someone needs to get me there in the next 7 hours.  I even have something to wear! What are the chances of that happening? (even in Austin)

If you're stuck inside, no worries-watch the live webcam de la Tour Eiffel http://bit.ly/ruFtrX I shall be watching no matter where I am.

Russian dress in a  French setting while celebrating in Austin. How fun does this sound and why am I just hearing about it now?
The volk ('wolf' in Russian) is the core of this New Years Eve night at Justine's Brasserie. Everyone should come dressed formal, Russian, and opulent, while inside is your animal self, the rabid, wild wolf that comes out on New Years Eve and takes over.

Customs Here and There
Many parts of the US celebrate the new year by eating black-eyed peas, considered good luck in many cultures. Cabbage is another ‘good luck’ vegetable. Cabbage leaves are considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. Let's not forget watching football all day; a popular custom indeed.

In France, they host a special New Year feast on New Year's Eve called le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre which consists of customary dishes like pancakes, foie gras (flavored duck or goose) and champagne. French believe this special dinner brings prosperity to the house.Combining these two cuisines sounds neither tasty nor prosperous.

New Years Day in France
New Year in France is better known as Jour des Étrennes (Day of Gift Giving). It is celebrated on January 1 (according to the Gregorian Calendar) with great pomp and show. Jour des Étrennes is one of the oldest festivals celebrated all over France. People are highly excited to bid goodbye to the old year and to welcome the coming year. The New Year holidays in France end on January 6 (l'Épiphanie), with the ceremonial cutting of a special type of festive cake called la galette des rois.

New Year in France is mostly a a private affair when people like to have dinner with their dear ones and/or enjoy une soirée dansante (ball). In South Western France, there is a tradition to attend the evening mass and participate in the torchlight procession heading towards the vineyards for mulled wine.

Alongwith partying hard, French love the tradition of gift-giving and take it quite seriously. They consider it more auspicious to present gifts on New Year than any other festival. They greet each other with cards, cakes and other goodies.  Interestingly, kissing under the mistletoe is a New Year's custom in France, rather than a Christmas custom as in other countries.

New Year Parade in Paris
One of the famous New Year parades take place in Paris. It is not to be missed 2-day festival. Thousands of performers - singers, dancers and entertainers steal the show. The parade marches through various streets. It mostly goes through Chantilly on 31st December and reach Trocadéro, under the Eiffel Tower on January 1.

Poisson d'avril
Poisson d' avril means April fish in French. When Charles IX, declared January 1 as the New Year's day, and those who did not follow it as New Year's day were called fools. People started playing pranks on them by sending fake party invitations and gifts. This day has become a part of fun and enjoyment for French children. Now-a-days even shops display pictures of chocolate fish. 

I don't have any profound statements to make about 2012. I shall continue my French studies, make new friends française, and plot et plan mon retour à Paris. Have a wonderful time tonight wherever you go, and une Bonne Année tout le monde!

26 December 2011

Joyeux Noël!

Champs Elysées, Paris
A day late..

I couldn't get this posted yesterday due to laptop malfunction, too many people and hoards of presents being opened, put together, and tested. I hope everyone had a fabulous day. While waiting for the rest of the troops to arrive, I had both great-nephews in my lap showing them pictures and videos of Christmas in Paris. They were mesmerized. I was as well. Ice sculptures, snow, lights, décorations grandioses. We heard the French version of "Jingle Bells" - that was really fun!

My sister made me an Alpaca infinity scarf
 I love it!

Let's recap all things francaise I've seen, eaten or learned for the past few weeks:
Our last cours de français was the 17th. We learned several different ways to ask questions. This has involved writing many sentences and reading them as well. We still stutter and sputter when reading - quite humorous at times. We also reviewed when, where, what, which and how. It is imperative that I find un ami français to practice with and who will correct me. Ever think about how the English word "do" doesn't really have a meaning?  Same with "est-ce que"; its only purpose is to show that the sentence is a question.

I haven't eaten anything truly French since in Santa Fe last month. I have however sampled several les vins française. Délicieux!

Française factoid - The word “encore” is French for again, although the French themselves prefer to call bis after a particularly outstanding performance if they want to hear an encore. The alternating cheek kiss the French do when greeting each other is called "La bise or le bisou ".

I subscribed to the French Music Blog. I receive videos of artistes française to have a listen, possibly purchase, add to my Pandora station or Blip song list. I prefer Blip over Pandora.

This is one of the rare French songs that is slow enough to sing along to. Great pronunciation practice.
A “Classique” French Carol: “Petit papa Noël”

I could go on attaching pictures for hours, but I shan't. It's time to gather my gifts and head back home. 
2nd Street,  Austin - texasphototour.blogspot.com

Marchés de Noël, Paris

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, Austin