HALLOWEEN EN FRANÇAIS
Ont un Halloween Heureux! That’s what I’d like to say, since heureux co-mingles nicely with horreur in the ear, but Joyeux Halloween! is probably correct. Meanwhile, you can learn a little here about Halloween in the French style. I hope I’ve given you sufficient vocabulary. Vous serez surpris de voir à quel point beaucoup français vous savez déjà.
Par exemple, ici, c’est le tombeau de Delacroix au cimetière du Père Lachaise.
Halloween is not a French holiday, but they’ve adopted it so les petits enfants can put on classic déguisements and get some bonbons. Perhaps your jeune fille would like to be a zombie?
I’ve read that if you are ever invited to an automne dinner by a French family, you should not horrify your hostess by presenting her with a bouquet of chrysanthemums. Since one can find images of this lovely autumnal flower looking cheerful in vases, I can’t attest to the accuracy of this warning. More research is needed.
Bougie? I searched and found that this “wax candle” comes from Bugia, a town in Algeria with an ancient wax trade. Odd that bougie conjures Boogey(man), though not, in this case, boogie. According to Wikimedia: “The French equivalent of the Bogeyman is le croque-mitaine (“the mitten-biter” or rather “the hand-cruncher”, mitaine means mitt in an informal way).” Isn’t it very Russian to have a diminutive longer than the word? Apparently the Bogeyman is usually a deliberately vague and faceless personification of terror, and the same goes for the French version. There were no illustrations of a demonic figure crunching or munching gloved hands. I went in search of an image from one of those old Hollywood movies with crawling hand searching out a victim to throttle. No luck. I did find a lady in black leather “bondage mittens.” A bit kinky for this post? Then I found this “crime scene” photo. Rather too perfect to be real, and no mittens, but it’s quite striking.
So if French bougies come from Bugia, wence cometh candles? According to the online Etymology Dictionary: “Old English candel “lamp, lantern, candle,” an early ecclesiastical borrowing from Latin candela “a light, torch, candle made of tallow or wax,” from candere “to shine,” from PIE root *kand- “to glow, to shine, to shoot out light” (cf. Sanskrit cand- “to give light, shine,” candra- “shining, glowing, moon;” Greek kandaros “coal;” Welsh cann “white;” Middle Irish condud “fuel”).”
And not only that! “Candles were unknown in ancient Greece (where oil lamps sufficed), but common from early times among Romans and Etruscans. Candles on birthday cakes seems to have been originally a German custom. To hold a candle to originally meant “to help in a subordinate capacity,” from the notion of an assistant or apprentice holding a candle for light while the master works. To burn the candle at both ends is recorded from 1730.”
If you wanted a creepy experience in the era of my novels, you could visit Cabaret du Néant, of nothingness, and be treated to a body dissolving in a coffin. You could enter the coffin yourself, if you chose.
For continued creepiness, go to my website and visit les catacombes – just click on this image.