The French have reluctantly taken on a few of our American holidays and traditions…Halloween, bachelorette or hen parties, and lavish weddings, for example. Luckily, Thanksgiving is still a mystery to them. As it should be, given that the history of the holiday is exclusively tied to America.
They don’t have a good handle on what it is all about (and I might add, neither do our dear British allies…).
As I set out on my annual scavenger hunt to find all the necessary ingredients for our feast, I watched several shop keepers have their “AHA moments”, when I told them I needed so-and-so for le jour de grâces.
I even tried: le jour de l’action de grâce.
After repeating it several times, a smile would spread across their faces, and they would say, “Madame, vouliez-vous dire Noël américain?”
“No, kind sir, I don’t mean American Christmas! I mean Thanksgiving.”
“Humph. Noël américain.”
So this year, I decided to celebrate American Christmas in a very French Thanksgiving-ish way. I chose to host a wine tasting Thanksgiving chez nous. Complete with foie gras and strange French farce (stuffing).
My precious friend and wine expert Hélène chose a yummy menu of four wines (two white and two reds) and a bubbly magnum of champagne to sample over the course of the evening. Who knew wine could taste of grass and honey, dirt and mold, black berries and grapefruit. It was a hoot and a delicious way to remember to be grateful for the wonderful group of international friends we have in Paris…
…and to enlighten a few of our French friends on the finer points of American Christmas Thanksgiving.
le jour de grâces / le jour de l’action de grâce: Thanksgiving
“Madame, vouliez-vous dire Noël américain?”: “Madam, do you mean American Christmas?”
Noël américain: American Christmas.
Autre Vocabulaire (curtesy of Laura K. Lawless, www.French.about.com)
autumn, fall l’automne
colony une colonie
family la famille
feast un festin, un banquet
football le football américain
grateful (adj) reconnaissant
harvest la récolte
horn of plenty la corne d’abondance
native (adj) indigène
(Native American) Indians les Indiens (d’Amérique)
parade une parade
Pilgrims les pèlerins
settler un colonisateur
to share partager
thanks les remerciements
tradition une tradition
traditional (adj) traditionnel
treaty un pacte
tribe une tribu
Some traditional dishes served on Thanksgiving:
food la nourriture
bread le pain
corn le maïs
cranberry la canneberge
gravy la sauce au jus de viande
mashed potatoes la purée
pumpkin pie la tarte à la citrouille
stuffing la farce
sweet potato la patate douce
turkey la dinde
yam un igname