(Click here to read the article as published in France Today Magazine)
I think we are all ready to bid adieu to 2020! With no France trip this year, I have been perfectly content to bury my head in the sand and ride out the storm. However, the holidays are such a special time - I am compelled to make the season as joyful and special as possible.
If you are used to adding a French flair to your holidays, but feeling a bit “bah, humbug” this year, I have some ideas that may make you hum a new tune. Delving into French traditions may inspire some new decor, some new tastes, and some great gifts for the francophiles on your list (even if you that’s just you!).
For Americans, Thanksgiving is the “porte d’entree” for the holiday season (If you can still fit through that porte after a robust Thanksgiving dinner!). Black Friday has recently become a thing in France, but the traditional beginning of the season is November 25 - Sainte-Catherine - which marks the beginning of Advent. (Advent comes from the latin aventus - “that which is to come)". Advent calendars are such a part of the culture in France. If yours is tired and worn out, why not get creative this year? Grab a large branch from your yard and place it in a vase or flower pot. Collect 24 children’s socks in white, red and green. Fill each sock with a message, candy or small gift, then tie a ribbon along the top with a number (1-24). Use small clothes pins to hang them on the branch. You can put 4 Advent candles around the vase to light each week. Et voilà, a festive corner of the house to count down the days (because who doesn’t like the constant reminder that you are running out of time to shop?!)
Speaking of shopping, like you, I miss the Christmas markets for which France is so famous. If you have never been to the Strasbourg Christmas Market, be sure to add it to your bucket list. Last year my husband and I strolled the stalls, drinking our vin chaud, and it was simply enchanting. This year we will have to recreate the magic with our own vin chaud, fait maison. We picked up a package of the mulling spices at a stand, but it is easy enough to make your own.
Vin Chaud d’Alsace
1/2 liter of water
5-6 sugar cubes (or 1/4 cup of sugar)