French word of the day: Les Fêtes (21/12/2023)

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So it is the countdown to Christmas, aka Noël, and no I’ve not finished my holiday shopping. My excuse is that I have a rather annoying cold, so it is what it is and that 2€ slinky from Carrefour is simply going to have to do as stocking stuffer. (Because who needs a handheld Nintendo switch anyway?)

To be pedantic, the word “Noël” for Christmas in French likely comes from the Latin word “natalis” meaning “day of birth”. But it could also come from those intrepid Gauls, who used the Gaellic words “noio hel“, meaning “nouveau soleil” in French and “new sun” in English”.

Anyway speaking of historical roots, the happy (and surprising) news out of Paris is that the golden rooster has been placed back on top of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, after that devastating 2019 fire.

I have to say at the time when President Macron announced that they were going to reconstruct Notre Dame in 5 years, I did squint a bit at the TV since French paperesse is rather legendary. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had taken 5 years simply to agree on the architectural sketches!

So this is a nice surprise, although it is not going to be ready for the Paris Olympics (but what facilities are going to be ready anyway? More on that in another newsletter, we’re going for cheerful here!)

The rooster (“coq” in French) is one of the symbols of France, and they’ve added a bit of “phoenix rising” motif to this new golden rooster for even more cocorico power.

There is some controvery however, because we wouldn’t be French if there wasn’t. Apparently Macron has said that the existing paned glass windows are going to be replaced by “contemporary” ones.

Front of Notre dame de Paris Cathedral

No one knows what “contemporary” means, but a petition has already been launched with nearly a 100,000 signatures. Personally, I’m not sure what to make of this because when they were built, even the Eiffel tower was detested, along with that modern glass pyramid thing in the courtyard of the Louvre.

Now however, both are instantly recognizable and iconic so feelings can change. But if you have a strong opinion about this, you too can sign the petition to push it over the top.

And with that I’m signing off for 2023, happy holidays and best wishes to you and yours for the new year, and see you all in 2024 😉

Joyeux Noël et bonnes fêtes! Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

In other news:

And in the blog:

Josephine Baker: American singer turned French icon

Explore the life of Josephine Baker, the American jazz singer turned French resistance fighter and civil rights activist.

Rocamadour: Guide to Notre Dame Sanctuary and village

Discover Rocamadour’s sacred sanctuary, medieval village, and nearby attractions. With things to see, do, and eat.

Mushroom and Pasta Gratin (with bacon)

Get the easy recipe for mushroom pasta gratin with bacon and parmesan that makes a delicious dinner or side dish.

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