Saturday, October 31, 2009

French Friday (2): the Halloween Version

I know it's Saturday, but if you've been following my blog for a little while, you've perhaps noticed two things:
1)I'm very bad with keeping up with weekly memes
2)When I do post them, I almost always manage to do it a day late.

So, keeping with that tradition of lateness, I'm doing French Friday on Saturday this week. It's hosted my Charlotte at The Book On the Hill, and this week she talks about the (somewhat boring) French covers of Harry Potter. You'll also get to see the French attempt at a cover for Graceling (can I say fail?)

It is a well known fact that the French don't celebrate Halloween. They tried to for a little while, but for some reason that I will just never understand, it didn't work out, and now it pretty much doesn't exist here at all.

Still, I figured they must have some Halloweenish books. Right? So I went to the book store to see what kinds of spooky Halloweeny books I could find, and aside from a couple books about vampires (since books about vampires are all the rage nowadays and all), well, there were none. I guess I shouldn't have been shocked, but I was. I mean, I thought I would at least find ONE Halloween-themed book. For cultural purposes and all.
So I went to Amazon, thinking that it was ridiculous that the French had no Halloween books, that it just couldn't be so (I should perhaps note that I went to at least 5 different book stores).
And I found this:
This is basically a children's History book that explains what Halloween is and how it is celebrated. I sort-of wish that I could have looked inside it. It dates from 1998 when the French tried and failed to do Halloween. Can you imagine, though - a Halloween "how to" book for kids.

I also found this:

This means T'choupi celebrates Halloween. T'choupi is a very well-known and well-loved (by French children) curious little penguin, and he has many different adventures in a series of French story books. I was very glad to discover that he gets to take part in one of my favorite American holidays.

So there we have it, the French don't do Halloween.
Intersting fact: I taught my students about Halloween (none of them had ever even heard of it - I guess their parents did read them that particular T'choup book), and I tried to get them excited about dressing up and candy. And they all seemed to think it was one of the lamest things they had ever heard about. They all voted that it was NOT something in which they wanted to participate. They were between the ages of 7 and 11. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?!?

Up next week: an interesting phenomenon I discovered while at the book stores this week. Check back next Friday (or Saturday)!

And, of course



La Coccinelle said...

That's interesting. You know, I would have thought there would be some French books related to Halloween... even if they had to be imported from Canada. I think the French Canadians celebrate Halloween. If not, then the song "C'est l'Halloween" is just something they use to torture small children in French immersion programs.

Charlotte said...

Yeah, Halloween is not a big thing here. It's weird because when I was a child, we used to carve pumpkins, dress up and go trick-or-treating in our little village in the SW of France. This year a lot of shops in Paris decorated their vitrines with Halloween stuff, but the whole celebration isn't really there. I carved a pumpkin, and made some pumpkin soup (that was not good at all hélas...!). And I wore my new orange dress that I bought in Ottawa last summer, and almost looked like a pumpkin myself. Oh well, at least a few of us French people do celebrate Halloween !

Charlotte said...

Look what I just found here ! It's exactly the right illustration to your post, it cracked me up when I saw it !

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Alessandra said...

Wow, that picture of the big pumpkin eating a smaller pumpkin is so, so creepy!!

I don't think we should celebrate Halloween in Italy, either... but more and more people do it nowadays. People like having an ecuse to dress up in costumes, apparently. As if it were Carnival in autumn, lol.

An interesting thing my dad told me is that when he was a small kid, late 1950s and early 1960s, his mum used to carve a pumpkin in the shape of a head and put it out of the kitchen's window to "keep the evil spirits out" before All Saints - at a time where no one knew anything about the US or Halloween. Cool.

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