Being November 1st, it is a Bank Holiday (Jour Férié) here in France today. In the UK, if a date specific Bank Holiday falls on a week-end the actual Bank Holiday will get switched to the nearest in Monday, where-as in France it stays on it's given date, even if that is a Saturday or Sunday.
November 1st is Toussaint (All Saints’ Day), the day to celebrate all the Catholic Saints. November 2nd is All Soul's day when families traditionally commemorated the dead. Now most families use the Bank Holiday of Toussaint on November 1st to gather together and remember their deceased relatives. Many people will attend special church services after which time gravestones will be visited, cleaned and chrysanthemums placed on or near the graves. All garden centres, flower shops and supermarkets will sell vast numbers of chrysanthemums on the run up to Toussaint and it is worth remembering that if you are in France or have French friends you should never give chrysanthemums to your friends or dinner host because of their association with the dead.
|Chrysanthemums for sale at our local supermarket|
Toussaint is probably the most respected of all the national public holidays in France. It falls in the Autumn half term break so schools are shut anyway but many shops, restaurants and companies will also close. This year though, with it falling on a Saturday I have noticed more shops are saying that they will be open, a sign perhaps that commercialisation is gradually taking over from both religious and cultural tradition. Next year Toussaint will be on a Sunday when shops are traditionally shut anyway, but it will be interesting to see what is open in 2 years time when it falls on a Monday. Are shops open this year simply because it is a Saturday this year or is there a shift towards opening on public holidays regardless of what day they fall on? We shall have to wait and see.
Do you think shops should open on Bank Holidays? Are you one of those people who dash to the sales on Boxing Day or do you think we need a break from spending our heard eared cash?