It may be Thanksgiving in the states; however, here in Paris, Christmas festivities are getting underway quickly. All around the city light spectacles are being hung between the famous Haussmann style facades, store windows and the famous interiors of the Galleries Lafayette and the Bonne Marche are decorated to the nines with garland and trees and Christmas markets are starting to pop up. Something I had not thought about too much before I left the United States was that in Europe they don’t celebrate another holiday a month before Christmas.
Since Thanksgiving is a U.S. specific holiday, instead Christmas preparations start around early to mid-November. Before coming abroad, I knew I would be missing Thanksgiving; however, as it approaches closer and I start seeing my friends and family prepare for it, I have been seeking comfort in looking ahead toward Christmas and my eventual flight home. I may be a little homesick having to miss being around my family on such a beloved holiday, but even I can’t help but start to get into the Christmas spirit in France. My first Christmas activity of this holiday season was attending the Christmas market at the Tuileries Garden located just behind the Louvre. The market looked like a winter carnival, all around there were food vendors with “vin chaud” or hot mulled wine, giant dishes of tartiflette, a dish from the Alps made of hot potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions, as well as French patisserie booths and hot gaufres (waffles). All around there were little fireplaces and tables, live music. vendors selling Christmas trinkets and ornaments and even carnival style rides and mazes. The scene of this bustling market at night was so magical even in the cold, it was so fun to see locals getting into the spirit early, being present in their togetherness, and having the privilege to be a part of that. I feel like thinking about Christmas before Thanksgiving is part of immersing myself in this culture and understanding better the way the French celebrate the holiday season.