Labor Day or Non-Labor Day? Glorious, Either Way!
I do hope you were lucky enough to have been in Paris yesterday. Never has there been as glorious a day. When the morning started out gray, there was concern that the planned picnic on the lawns of Place des Vosges would be held instead under the canopy of the vaulted arcade…but the powers that be must have been smiling down on us. The clouds shifted and the sun shone brightly all afternoon and into the evening.
We weren’t the only ones with such a bright idea, but there was plenty of space on the grass as the blankets were spread, unearthing the packaged goodies and uncorking the wine. Then, without even realizing it as we ate, drank, talked and laughed, our bodies absorbed the healing rays of the sun giving energy to our minds, our bodies and our spirits. The gloom of a long Paris winter seemed OVER…at least for that one day, and it lasted all day long. Hurrah!
About one-third of the number of days in Paris life is spent under rainy skies, according to the statistics,* with only 1750 hours of sunshine all year long — or not quite 20%. Compare this with Los Angeles where there are 3,255 hours every year in sunshine — 37%! And only 23 days a year with rainfall — 6%!
Maybe that’s why Parisians are well known for their surly nature (café waiters are particularly prone). It’s called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “SAD.” (Isn’t that clever?) They have it and don’t even know it. Symptoms include feeling sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious, wanting to eat more and craving carbohydrates, such as baguettes and patisseries.
They didn’t have it yesterday, however. There simply has never been more smiling faces on the streets of Paris than there were yesterday. Besides the sun to make the people dance with glee, they had the day off, too, and you know how Parisians love to NOT WORK. It was “Labor Day” (shouldn’t it be called “Non-Labor Day?”) and while only a handful were doing much of anything other than pointing their faces to the sun, the presidential candidates were rallying for support just one last time before Sunday’s final round of voting.
‘Work’ was at the heart of Nicolas Sarkozy’s message using May 1st as the perfect example to celebrate “real work” and “people who work hard.”
His opponent, Socialist François Hollande, took the day off (in perfect Socialist spirit) to rest his voice before tonight’s big debate and national news channel France24.com reported that for him, “The whole point of having the day off is to celebrate workers’ rights. Going to work – i.e.: giving a speech – would be a sign of disrespect to the country’s workforce.”
National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, ‘worked hard’ at her own rally, but in a different way. Her message was to ‘do nothing’ — neither vote for the right nor the left, as in her viewpoint, the candidates are the same. This means her 18% of voters could abstain from voting altogether.
The message is hilariously clear. Work, don’t work, or refuse to work. But no matter what, let’s do it or not do it in the sun if we can!
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
(photo by Michael Honegger)
P.S. Parler Parlor French-English Conversation group is closed for the holiday on May 8th (Fête la Victoire, Victory Day WWII).