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Soucis - Photo : G. BrameMarigold or chrysanthemum? Both have bright colours. In many countries, chrysanthemums are used in bouquets but you hardly ever give them to someone in France because here, they are associated with death. The French word for marigold is "souci" that refers to "worry".

November 1st: All Saints’ Day

Chrysanthemums or Pumpkins?

Seasonal fruits and flowers, the orange and yellow of pumpkins and crysanthemums bring colour to the first few days of November.

Chrysanthèmes - Photo : M. DécheletteThe crysanthemum, which means golden flower, comes from Asia. It originally grew in China and Korea before becoming the symbol of the emperor of Japan.

In 1789, the year of the French Revolution, Captain Blancart of Marseilles brought the first crysanthemum back from China. After that it was just a matter of growing it in France and creating different varieties.

In the Roman catholic calendar November 1st is All Saints’ Day, a bank holiday. After the First World War, in which millions of soldiers gave their lives for their country, French people began to honour their dead by putting flowers on their tombs.

And because chrysanthemums are one of the few flowers available at this time of year, their multicoloured pompoms naturally became flowers for the cemetery. In many countries, chrysanthemums are used in bouquets but you hardly ever give them to someone in France because here, they are associated with death.

Whatever your beliefs, All Saints Day is like Christmas in that everyone talks about it. Children are on holiday and families who want to cultivate their roots can get together to talk about life and death…and thus about their family history.

Citrouilles - Photo : M. DécheletteIn France, the pumpkin (in French, “citrouille” or “potiron”) is always used to make soup, gratin or jam... but not turned into a carriage by Cinderella’s fairy godmother. After some success in 2000, ghosts and witches with all the morbid commercial rites of Halloween have not really taken off in France. Originally, this Celtic festival with its black and orange colours symbolized the death of harvest and marked the end of summer and start of winter during the night of October 31st to November 1st.

In 2006, the chrysanthemum got the better of the pumpkin and so... Halloween was dethroned by All Saints’ Day.

November 11th: Armistice Day

Monuments aux morts d'Occagnes - Photo : G. Brame

his day commemorates the end of World War I (1914-1918) when France and Germany were at war.

The end of hostilities was signed on November 11th 1918: Armistice Day. The French soldiers were called « Poilus ».

November 25th: Saint Catherine’s Day

A la Sainte Catherine, tout bois prend racine

On Saint Catherine’s Day all wood takes root.

According to the saying, now is the time to plant trees and bushes. That’s what they did on November 25th 1999 in 337 French towns and villages (from Dunkirk to the Pyrenees).

Each town hall arranged to plant a tree every 100 metres in public parks and private gardens. So now, oaks, hornbeams and, in the south, olive trees form a dotted line joining up the north with the south of the country, passing through Amiens, Paris, Bourges and Carcassonne. This unusual living and growing monument to the year 2000 is 1000 kilometres (over 600 miles) long.

Brouillard en novembre, l’hiver sera tendre
If it’s foggy in November, there’ll be a mild winter


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