Bonjour mes belles,
For those visiting France for the first time at this time of the year, you may think that France is obsessed with the chrysanthemum as they appear to be every where you look.
This weekend is all about Toussaint, a Catholic holiday honouring all Saints. It is a time when French pay respect to their deceased relatives. All Saints' Day, the 1st of November, sees families gathering to visit cemeteries to clean and decorate tombs. The majority of which, are decorated with chrysanthemums.
The tradition of using chrysanthemums is a relatively recent one, dating from 1919 when the then President, Raymond Poincaré, declared that all war memorials should be decorated with floral tributes.
As one of the rare flowers still in bloom in November it became the flower of choice for cemeteries, with hundreds of thousands of widows laying blooms at their fallen husbands' memorials. The chrysanthemum is now known as the widow's flower and is forever associated with Toussaint and death.
With such connotations, chrysanthemums are not usually given at other occasions and there has been many a case where an innocent foreigner has unwittingly caused offence (or at least surprise) by offering a hostess these colourful flowers!
So if you are ever in France around this time of the year, you will know not to offer a chrysanthemum as a cadeau, chocolates are always a nice gesture and the French are known for their love of chocolat which explains just why there are so many chocolate shops in France.
à demain, Leeann x