Bloody One Eleven: An All Saints Day Celebration
For many of you out there, you are planning your Halloween costumes, the party you’re giving or going to, making a trip to the grocery store to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters and conjuring up ghosts and goblins in your dreams. But here in Paris, there’s not much sign of Halloween. For a while about 15 or 20 years ago, the French took a bloody stab at it, and so there was a bit of a burst of orange and black decorations, ghoulish faces on the Métro, a party here and there, but it never quite made it big. Now, it’s fizzled to almost nothingness.
One reason my guess is clearly cultural. We send our kids dressed in costumes out to walk from house to house to ring the bells, say “trick or treat” and collect the traditional candy goodies and meanwhile, we adults get “déguisé” (disguised in costume) and go off to some wild party to get drunk. While we’re cautious about dangers that might lurk on such a lurid evening, we don’t think anything of being so bold as to disturb (ringing the bell of) the neighbors.
This is simply not what I can imagine French parents doing. French neighbors are always polite and do say “Bonjour Madame” or hold open the elevator door for you, but open their apartment doors to let you peek into their lives to offer up candy to strange kids? Rarely! And only the young are about to let themselves go to the point of looking ghoulish…or Frankensteinish…or foolish.
(I’ve lived in the same building for more than 16 years. I know the permanent residents by sight, but only a few by their names. I’ve entered one of their apartments only once and never went further than the living room. On the buzzers at the door on the courtyard, the residents decided to put numbers on the buttons instead of names so they could be completely anonymous [and if the resident changed, the button wouldn’t have to change and look messy]). My buzzer button is the only one that has a name, simply because I was fortunate enough to catch the installer and politely asked him to put my name on it instead. They must all think I’m the nutty American who doesn’t want privacy!
No matter. If you’re in Paris and do want to celebrate Halloween, Dorothy’s Gallery American Center for the Arts (27 Rue Keller, 75011 Paris) is making that possible for you. At 7 p.m. on the 31st, the Sara French Trio will start their Jazz Swing. While you’re dancing, you’ll be drinking Bloody Marys (or should we say “Bloody Marie-Antoinettes?”), “sanguinolent” (bloody) punch and other red-blooded American surprises Dorothy has up her sleeve. It’s 10 for non-members and 8 for members. See dorothysgallery.com for more information and to reserve your spot. Tell Dorothy I sent you!
Halloween has no roots in France, but All Saints Day does! “The Roman Catholic church celebrated November 1st as All Saint’s Day (‘la Toussaint’), in celebration of saints who do not have their own holy day. This was done in part to detract attention from the pagan celebration of Samhain, but it didn’t work. The celebrations on the eve of All Saint’s Day continued evolving, and during the Irish immigration of the 1840s, Halloween found its way to the United States, where it developed over time into the children’s holiday that we know today.” (french.about.com/)
All Saints Day is a great day to go to the cemetery. It’s a bank holiday and that means you’ve got the day off to visit your favorite resting place for the dead, lay some flowers on someone’s grave (or on several) and celebrate not death, but life. So, if you didn’t overdo it the night before, or even if you did, head to any one of the many Paris has many great cemeteries from which to chose:
* 12th Arrondissement, Cimetière de Bercy
* 14th Arrondissement, cimetière du Montparnasse
* 15th Arrondissement, Cimetière de Grenelle and Cimetière de Vaugirard
* 16th Arrondissement, Cimetière d’Auteuil and Cimetière de Passy
* 17th Arrondissement, Cimetière des Batignolles
* 18th Arrondissement, Cimetière de Montmartre, Cimetière de Saint Vincent and Cimetière du Calvaire (open only on November 1st)
* 19th Arrondissement, Cimetière de la Villette
* 20th Arrondissement, Cimetière de Belleville, Cimetière de Charonne and of course Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
Learn all about them at paris.fr/english and do have fun visiting the dead on 1-11.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
P.S. Author Kathleen Spivack will read from her new book “With Robert Lowell and His Circle” (University Press of New England, 2012), a touching and deeply revealing look into the lives and thoughts of some of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Tuesday, November 12th at Parler Paris Après-Midi.
P.P.S. You can make your stay in Paris even more special when you using the customized concierge services of Parler Paris Plus! From restaurant reservations, tickets to special events, gift baskets, full day touring itineraries and more, your concierge will work with you to design the vacation of your dreams! Visit Parler Paris Plus or email [email protected].