it's the season....

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 


  1. Same here ( NY/USA) .. great colors too. I have them around my home in copper color .

    1. The first year that I moved to France I found it most odd that the local supermarket threw them out on the night of the 31st of Oct. I collected them all up5around 20 in total) and put them on the balcony of my old house which is situated on the main square of a medieval village not far from where we line now; Around 2 days later I noticed that they attracted earwigs which were everywhere so pack to the supermarket skip they went.....the locals must have thought what is that crazy NZ woman doing?? You live and when I look at them I shudder!
      amicalement, Leeann x

      P.S. I love NY in the fall I spent some time working in Long Island which I loved and have fond memories of the pumpkins everywhere.

  2. Thank you for let me know about that. Here in Brasil, we have a lot of beautiful chrysanthemums being sold at the supermarkets. I allways buy some. But now I know, if I go to France, no chrysanthemums at all. :)

    1. Bonjour Maria, it is a bit bizarre as they sell bunches of them in the supermarkets which means that people buy them to put in the house but they remind me of the cemeteries.

      In NZ when I was growing up, my grandmother picked some arum lilies and placed them in the hall. My grandfather came in and said that they were funeral flowers and threw them out.
      Since then I have never placed arum lilies inside the house and always think of that incident whenever I see one.
      Leeann x

  3. Living in France I know that's what people do BUT I buy the pots and put stand them along the path of my house because they look lovely and brighten the day - my French friends don't pass comment just accept that I'm English !!

    1. As a kiwi living with a Frenchman there are many thing that I do that the French do not do....eating vegemite, forgetting to put knife rests on the table, eating a hamburger with my fingers and the list goes on! It's better to be unique than to follow the pack :-)

      amicalement, Leeann

  4. Leeann, I love chrysanthemums in the autumn! I understand that they and the calla lily are known as funeral flowers and not given as gifts otherwise.

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Lesley Schiff


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