Discover All Saints' Day and its traditions, both as a religious celebration and an important day for families.
Hello! My name is Nina, and I live in Melbourne, Australia. This fall, I took the plunge and decided to go for an immersion experience. I chose the immersion with Virginie because the location is absolutely stunning, and Virginie is an outstanding teacher. I was fortunate to arrive during a time when serenity slowly settles in this beautiful region. Thus, I got to experience the traditions, especially those of All Saints' Day. I'll talk about it in this article, with the help of Virginie in Provence.
I. All Saints' Day in France: What is "All Saints' Day"?
All Saints' Day is celebrated every year on November 1st. It's a day when families gather to honor the memory of the deceased. It's primarily a family celebration, but also a religious one. It marks the day when we pay tribute to all the saints in heaven, known and unknown.
A. All Saints' Day in France - A Religious Celebration
Practicing Catholics attend mass on this day and go to the cemetery to pay homage to their deceased loved ones by decorating their graves with flowers and candles.
B. All Saints' Day in France - A Public Holiday
In France, All Saints' Day is also a public holiday. Many families take the opportunity to visit their deceased relatives and maintain the cemetery graves. This day is a chance to come together as a family to honor the memory of those who are no longer with us.
II. All Saints' Day in France: Origins
The origin of All Saints' Day dates back to the 8th century when Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel to all the martyrs at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The date of November 1st was chosen to coincide with a Celtic pagan festival that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark period of the year.
III. All Saints' Day in Provence: The "Pont de la Toussaint"
Last year, All Saints' Day fell on a Tuesday, which was great news for the French. They could take an additional day off (Monday) to "bridge" the gap, a term meaning to enjoy a long weekend. This year, All Saints' Day falls on a Wednesday. So, the French need to take two extra days off to bridge the gap. But why not... To the impossible, no one is obligated (an expression meaning that nobody is obliged to do something impossible).
IV. All Saints' Day in Provence: Finding a Restaurant on All Saints' Day
A. Aix-en-Provence Cemetery on All Saints' Day
It's All Saints' Day Tuesday, and Virginie suggests we take a stroll. She asks if I'd like to visit the Aix-en-Provence cemetery. It might sound unusual, but Virginie knows I like to explore off the beaten path. So, I gladly accept her proposal.
I discover the Aix-en-Provence cemetery. Many famous people are buried here, like the renowned Cézanne (a famous 19th-century painter).
There are also many people in the cemetery praying and tending to the graves. This atmosphere deeply moves me, and I feel truly privileged to be in Aix-en-Provence at that moment.
After this unconventional visit, we head to the Aix-en-Provence market, which takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning. I'm delighted.
B. Aix-en-Provence Market on All Saints' Day
I love shopping. I'm overjoyed when I arrive at the Aix-en-Provence market. It's full of pottery, clothing, fruits, and vegetables. A real treat for all the senses. I look at all the market stalls with desire and joy. Lunchtime approaches, and we decide to have lunch in Aix-en-Provence before continuing our city tour.
C. Lunch in Aix-en-Provence on All Saints' Day
I want to have lunch in a traditional French restaurant. But Virginie warns me that many restaurants are likely fully booked. So, it becomes a real challenge to find a restaurant where we can eat! A great opportunity to practice my French. Indeed, many restaurants are already full. Fortunately, Aix-en-Provence is a city with many options. So, we finally manage to find a table at a restaurant called La Ferme, one of Virginie's favorite places, located near the Rotonde. The restaurant was also fully booked, but the manager offered to call us in case of a cancellation. So, we decided to take some photos near the statue of Cézanne, also near the Rotonde, when we received a call. There hadn't been any cancellations, but the manager had found a small table for us. The meal was delicious, the walk enriching and moving, and the market full of colors. I will always remember this day as one of the most beautiful ones I've spent in France. An unforgettable day.
If you come to my place for an immersion stay in Provence, I will make you discover the different aspects of Provence: the landscapes and the scents, but also the culture, the gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French. See you soon in Provence!
Virginie In Provence