Labor Day

by Kelly

in Notes On Culture

Today is the Fête du Travail or Labor Day. It is the one day where everything, and I mean everything, is closed, even public transportation. No one works; not for French people the traditional American holiday pastime of going shopping! Interestingly, there is also a tradition of selling lilies of the valley on May 1st. Any one can sell them*, and many political parties do so to raise funds.

This year, as the Fête du Travail falls on a Thursday, most people will be taking Friday off in order to have a long weekend. My husband’s work is closing on Friday, making it a mandatory long weekend for him. May is a nice month- May 8th is also a holiday, and a lot of people will take that day off as well. Finally, Pentecostal Monday, seven weeks after Easter, is traditionally also a holiday. A few years ago the government tried to take away its legal status as a holiday, and there hasn’t been such rioting in the streets as well, the last time the government tried to do something the peuple didn’t like. This occurs more often than one might think, although at least nobody lost their heads this time around.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that we’re going on vacation again. Not to the US, as much as I’d like to, nor to London, as much as I’d like that. Duty calls and we’re driving up to Alsace to visit my husband’s godmother. We’ll be back Sunday afternoon; after our month long trip to the US, this four hour car ride is really just a hop, skip and a jump for us!

*I’ve heard, although I don’t know if this is true, that this is the one day and the one thing that people can legally sell on the street without a license.

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