19th December 2008

It's always interesting to see the difference between how the English and the French celebrate the festive season, so how do the English celebrate here?
It's often the case that, in the first few years of living in France, many Brits cling on to their old patterns of overspending, overeating, getting stressed and spreading themselves too thinly. But, Counsellor Kate Reeves, who works at the Alive Centre in Couzedoux, has now decided that the best way is to celebrate at her home in in the Correze region of France. She says it's cheaper, less stressful and, with the current economic climate, staying here is an option many other expats are taking. Shopping is less stressful here - shops are emptier, parking is easier and the French are generally more relaxed and polite.
Others, like Penny and Derek Griffiths in Haute Normandy, invite their French neighbours around to enjoy an English Xmas, including turkey, crackers and mince pies. But, for me, this is the wrong thing to do. When in Rome.....
I even heard of a British couple who celebrate Xmas Day by having a lakeside picnic with the kind of food they like - yes, in the freezing cold. But they often visit some amazing Xmas shows, like the Chatellerault street carnival.
Certainly, in our village, there is little evidence of consumerism anywhere. There is a decorated Xmas tree outside the Pharmacie (with wrapped presents tied to the branches - which no-one steals!), and pretty lights strung across the road. But that's it.
So, the message seems to be: we like the festive entertainment and Xmas markets, but are sick of UK consumerism, overeating, shopping madness and family expectations.
Vive la france!

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