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Southern France
Lynn Deasy is a freelance writer, author, foodie, and garden tinkerer. She lives in a 600 year old house in southern France with her husband, Christophe. Currently, she is looking for a literary agent for her memoir CA VA? STORIES FROM RURAL LIFE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE which examines the oddities of French provincial living from an outsider’s point of view through a series of adventures that provide more than a fair share of frustration, education, admiration, and blisters…. yes, lots and lots of blisters. Lynn blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Carnival in France

            Carnival seems to be much tamer in France than in the US.  There are rambunctious parties such as in Nice and Paris, but there seems to be less youth-filled debauchery than seen in New Orleans.  Of course, there are the gastronomic indulgencies, but there is more of a family participation, such as village parties, family dinners, and children parades.  France is a Catholic country.  They have a separation of Church and State, but their historical roots are not forgotten.  Holidays, such as Ash Wednesday and Fat Tuesday are celebrated, even by non-practicing Catholics.
            Mardi Gras has pagan roots and was incorporated into Christianity because it was easier adapting it than abolishing it altogether, and the roots of American Mardi Gras, not surprisingly, come from France.  French explorers brought the tradition to New Orleans where it was first thought to be celebrated in 1699.  Under Spanish control, the holiday was banned, which was later lifted when Louisiana became a US state in 1812.
            Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent, or le carême and the Catholic traditions of fasting and not eating meat have not escaped the French public eye.  School cafeterias still serve fish on Fridays and markets tend to be more abundantly stocked with fish.  Part marketing, part respect, but all history.  France may be a country that proudly keeps religion out of politics, but it hasn’t forgotten its Catholic roots.  It may be shrouded, but the fact is, France flaunts its Christian beliefs, and the practices of Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday are a symbol of their living history.

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