Monday, July 09, 2007

Bon Matin (Good morning)

We started our French week with just a couple of posts about the French language. (Sorry about that long second post. Whew!) Tomorrow, we'll have a short post about those beautiful and famous French quilts. ( I promise -- It will be brief.) And, you won't need to speak a word of French to understand it!

Don't forget, July 14 or 14 juillet is Bastille Day in France. This commemorates the storming of the famous Bastille prison, which ignited the already smouldering French Revolution in 1789. The Revolution lasted for another decade, but the French see this date as being critical to their struggle for freedom.

I had so much fun when I was seventeen and in France when Bastille Day rolled around. We saw fireworks, a parade attended by high French officials and masses of Parisians, street dances, and attended a free performance of the play, Cryano de Bergerac, at the old Opera house. Before the play began, a woman dressed in the colors of the French Flag powerfully sang their national anthem -- La Marseillaise. The audience joined in, many with tears in their eyes.

Perhaps, you'd like to read a little bit about how the French celebrate Bastille Day. You could turn this into a family holiday and learn something about French culture in the meantime. For example, you could serve a Frech meal, and make little French flags out of toothpicks and colored construction paper to decorate the table.

I have loved France and French culture since I started taking French in the ninth grade. I studied French for four years in high school, spent a summer in Paris, and then minored in French and English literature in college. That meant that I took four more years of intensive French courses while in college.

Sadly, I had little opportunity to use my French in daily life. I lost a lot of my French language skills. Then, when DH surprised me with an anniversary trip to Paris in 2006, I started brushing up on my French in earnest. I still have a long way to go, but I'm having fun.



Mrs. U said...

What a sweet husband to take you to Paris for your anniversary!!

Perhaps you could find out about local high schools around you that take students to France during the summer. You could go as a chaperone!!

Mrs. U

Elizabeth said...

That would be fun! Maybe, we could both go.

Anonymous said...

There may be jobs in your area that may need a translator. The call center where my husband works has a language line they call for translators. You tell the line what language you need and they connect you with a translator, who works from home. They simply have to sit by the phone for a certain number of hours everyday, where they would get no interuptions, and take what ever calls come their way. His company gets a lot of Russian, Korean and Vietnamise, but there's some French, too (and they all seem to live in New York :P).

Elizabeth said...

That would be neat to have a job where I can use my French. That's for the suggestion. What type of call center is it?

I have a friend who lives here in Tennessee and who amrried an American, but is a native of England. She studied many languages. She's fouund work here as a Spanish interpreter for the courts. But, she's had to do a lot of studying of how to interprent legal lingo and such, and she has had to take several tests. I'd have to really get up to speed to do that! They also have volunteers who interpret languages in the hospitals arouund here.

Lilith said...

About you "Bastille meal" I must say that this is not at all a french thing. We do celebrate this day with fireworks, and militarian parade, and street balls everywhere, but we don't usually celebrate it at home, and we hardly ever use flags in our decoration, contrarily to american people... In fact, we are a proud people, this I can't deny, but we are not patriots. We rather respect rebelliousness than patriotism ! Most of our heroes were against government (whichever it was at the time)... This I think is a very important side of our culture that may be important to know for everyone interested in learning our way of thinking.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks again for giving us a real French perspective. Would you be willing to leave another comment describing Bastille Day in more detail? I think my readers would be interested.

I agree that the French are anti-authority and anti-government in many ways. But, when I was in Paris the first time -- in the early 70's -- patriotism in the U.S. was at an all time low. So, it was fascinating to me to see tears in the eyes of the French people in the old Opera house when a woman sang the Marseillaise (sp.?) from on stage.

All that day and the night before, there was an air of celebration in Paris that can only be described as a real love of country -- which is how I define patriotism. Or, at least, that's how it felt to me. I was just a foreign summer student, and I may have been misreading things.

Over here, there are many people who really get into the meaning of our own Independence Day, but there are also many who are just happy to have a summer holiday from work or school. Some people just don't think very deeply about why we celebrate Independence Day or about the cost that others have paid for our independence. I think that's probably true for every holiday we have in the U.S. -- some people understand and appreciate the meaning of a special day, while others don't think very deeply about the day at all and celebrate it superficially.

Regarding the meal, I was just thinking that it would be a way for American families to talk about French history and culture. Having a meal themed around another country's culture is a common way in America to teach children about that country. The meals probably aren't that authentic. But, they do open up a discussion that helps children realize that there is a larger world outside of our borders.

Lilith said...

Oh, I would like to precise that the "french meal" don't seem a bad idea at all, to me ! That was not at all what I meant... It is indeed a great and easy way to discover new cultures.
I just wanted to say that we don't do that in France for July 14th. You're right, now it is mostly considered as a welcome holiday :o ) I think that before, closer to the war, in fact, the feelings were deeper. Now the youngs only see an occasion to celebrate.
There is always the parade on the Champs Elysées, in the morning, with the Patrouille de France (several warplanes) making figures in the sky with blue, white and red smokes. It is always casted on TV.
And in every city and village, there is some fireworks and an outdoor ball. Often, the little villages use their fireworks on the 13th so as people can go to the bigger city and see the bigger fireworks the day after... :o )
In fact, that's kind of all... Except that in France we call this day "La fête nationale".
Here you are, you know everything, now !
Speaking of that meal, do you know the croque-monsieur ? It is a very easy and very french sandwich, if you don't wish to go into a boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin ;o ). A croque monsieur is just a hot sandwich with ham, cheese (emmenthal if you can) and a bit of béchamel (sauce made with flour, butter and milk). You make your sandwich and grill it with butter, pressing it into the pan (except if you have a croque-monsieur maker, of course...). You also can transform it in croque-madame, by adding a sunny side up egg ! It is a very common meal in the french "brasseries", and is delicious simply with some salad (real french dressing : olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, sometimes mustard, that's all !)
I'm glad and proud to help you to know better my country... And by the way, your spelling was perfect for La Marseillaise ;o )