One-Eleven and Other Grave Stories
GRAVE DAY IN PARIS
Halloween has no roots in France, but All Saints Day does in a rather “heavenly” way! “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 (and now adult’s) holiday that we know today.
In France, Toussaint is a national and bank holiday, even though it has religious foundation. It is traditional to visit your departed relatives’ graves on Toussaint and lay chrysanthemums or wreaths of “immortelles” (everlasting flowers) on their graves. (Make note, chrysanthemums are so closely tied with Toussaint that you must never give them to a French person as a gift!)
So, today as a holiday is the perfect day to take the opportunity to visit some of Paris’ most illustrious cemeteries! If you’ve never thought to do this, think again. Where else would you have a chance to mingle with the likes of Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Edouard Manet, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and thousands more? 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 and much more at and do have fun visiting the dead on 1-11.
11-1 OR 1-11
November 1 is special date, because no matter how you look at it, it’s filled with 1’s and that means you’re on the right path. I learned about 11’s when my daughter first moved to New York and began to see 11:11 morning and night on her clocks, no matter where she was. She was surrounded by 11’s all the time — whether it be her address, her seat number or just about anything she’s involved in. It impressed her so much, that she took on “MCXI” (1111 in Roman numerals) as her mantra. I began to see them, too, and it helps me know I’m in the right place at the right time.
If you Google 11 in numerology, you’ll come up with loads of interpretations, including these:
“The number 111 is a sign that the gate of opportunity is open. The thoughts you are thinking are manifesting at record speed. It is the ideal time to make use of this manifestation. If you wait too long, you might miss your chance.” (numerologysecrets.net/numerology-111-meaning/)
“Physical reality is a consciousness program created by digital codes. Numbers, numeric codes, define our existence. Human DNA, our genetic memory, is encoded to be triggered by digital codes at specific times and frequencies. Those codes awaken the mind to the change and evolution of consciousness. 11:11 is one of those codes, meaning activation of DNA. You will note that seeing 11 11 frequently creates synchronicities in your life.” (in5d.com/1111-synchronicity-repetitive-numbers-and-their-meaning/)
Today, Facebook told me that I had more friends with birthdays today than any other day. Eleven of my friends were listed! Happy birthday to all of you who were born on November 1. Consider yourself very, very, very lucky!
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THE BONJOUR EFFECT AT AMERICAN LIBRARY
Reading material in the beach bag this past summer was Julie Barlow’s and Jean-Benoit Nadeau’s “The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed.” I couldn’t put it down. You may already know the authors — the same as “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: What Makes the French So French?” which impressed me as much as 10 years ago.
I learned more by reading The Bonjour Effect than I have in 23 years of living in France about the secret codes that obviously have remained a secret to me until now. In Chapter 4, Schools: The Speech Factory, they explain why “dicté” — “dictation exercises are a unique French education ritual.” This came on the heels of my having just completed a chapter of the memoir I’m writing in which I describe an experience I had within a couple weeks of living in Paris: “When I attended her [my daughter’s] ‘Open House’ I learned about ‘dicté’ and was rudely awakened to the idea that my child, who had just come from a very progressive educational environment, was embarking on a curriculum best suited for sheep.”
What I learned from The Bonjour Effect is that my reaction was very typical of any red-blooded North American, “that rote learning was stifling their children’s creativity or stunting their analytical skills.” But according to Barlow and Nadeau, “It didn’t seem to be doing any damage to French kids.”
I’ll never say “bonjour” again without thinking of The Bonjour Effect. They claim it isn’t actually a word; that “it belongs to a linguistic category of ‘phatics.'”Phatics are “communication which serves a social function such as small talk and social pleasantries that don’t seek or offer any information of value. For example, greetings such as “hello” and “how are you?” are phatic expressions.” (Wikipedia.org) “Bonjour” is the “king” of phatic expressions in France, as per Barlow and Nadeau.
How many times have you launched into a dialog with a French person without saying “bonjour” first, only to be reprimanded for not having uttered this phatic word before asking your next question? After reading this brilliant book on the culture of French language, I will never say this word again without waiting for the recipient to acknowledge that I’ve said it before moving on to the next item of business…and I’ll be one step closer to understanding the French.
Now’s your opportunity to meet the authors in person…or at least one of them. Jean-Benoît Nadeau will be speaking at the American Library in Paris as part of their “Evenings with an Author” program this coming Tuesday, November 7th, at 7:30 p.m. I am sure he’ll draw a large crowd and I’ll be there, for sure, so go early to get a good seat. See more information by visiting the American Library in Paris.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
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