November 1st is big holiday in France. It is Toussaint, All Saints Day. Well it’s actually a mixture of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, but those are details for the church to quibble over. It’s a day when people head to the cemetery.
There are two common architectural aspects of all French cemeteries: great grey walls surround a great grey army of tombstones. Even the smallest cemetery has a formidable presence of stone; even the grandest is a place of earthbound drear. Until Toussaint! Big and little, threatening or dreary, all the cemeteries of France are gloriously filled with flowers on this day. To honor their ancestors, no one goes to the cemetery empty handed. Some folks will arrive with plastic flowers that will last until next year’s visit, but most will arrive with an overflowing pot of brightly blooming chrysanthemums. The crosses and tombstones of the cemetery will soon glow from the reflected color of this expansive autumnal bouquet.
For insights into french traditions and a great site for learning french I encourage you to check out Laura K. Lawless -http://www.lawlessfrench.com