French Holidays – Aux Petits Soins, LLC™

A very special Bastille Day!

Bastille Day is France’s National Day, analogous to Independence Day in the U.S. Its formal French name is la Fête Nationale, and is celebrated every year on July 14, commemorating a key moment of the French Revolution.

USA Today wrote an interesting piece in today’s paper: Bastille Day 2018: What you need to know about the French holiday, if you’d like to learn more.

And in case you missed it, this year Bastille Day falls on the same weekend France is playing the World Cup finals. I know, I know – most Americans don’t care about soccer, but in France, this is like having Super Bowl and 4th of July in the same weekend. This is huge!

By the way, if you’re interested in helping us cheer on Les Bleus (that’s our team, The Blues), follow this link for details about our family-friendly World Cup viewing party tomorrow, Sunday, July 15 starting at 10:30 a.m. We’ll have several TVs tuned into the game, kids activities and more.

 

Happy Music Day!

Today isn’t just the first day of summer — it’s also the French holiday Fête de la Musique,  or “World Music Day.” All over France, there will be free concerts performed by professional and amateur musicians alike who will take advantage of today being the longest day of the year to fill the air with music covering all genres. These planned and impromptu concerts are held in theaters, bars, parks and street corners.

Article: “Fête de la Musique: What you need to know about France’s biggest street music party.

And what better way to start summer vacation right here in Lansing than with a special day full of exuberant, music-making fun? This Sunday, Aux Petits Soins will host our Second Annual Music Festival. For two hours, we will transform the Aux Petits Soins classroom into a music and dance studio, with a range of musical instruments for the kids to play, a craft table, new French tunes to learn and more.

Space is limited to 15 kids, so make sure to reserve your tickets today. For details and more information, check out the event page on our website, or call (517) 999-7277. Ticket can be purchased online or in person at Aux Petits Soins during our business hours.

Bonne Epiphanie 2018!

Today, the French celebrate Epiphanie (Epiphany). On this occasion, we share a cake named galette des rois (Kings’ Cake), a pastry that has small charms baked inside. This pastry is also filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar. I can’t wait to share this tradition with everybody on January 14 from 4-6 p.m. Full description of the event is available here.

Happy Music Day!

Today isn’t just the first day of summer — it’s also the French holiday Fête de la Musique,  or “International Music Day.” All over France, there will be free concerts performed by professional and amateur musicians alike who will take advantage of today being the longest day of the year to fill the air with music covering all genres. These planned and impromptu concerts are held in theaters, bars, parks and street corners.

And what better way to start summer vacation right here in Lansing than with a special day full of exuberant, music-making fun? This Sunday, Aux Petits Soins will host our First Annual Music Festival. For two hours, we will transform the Aux Petits Soins classroom into a music and dance studio, with a range of musical instruments for the kids to play, a craft table, new French tunes to learn and more.

Space is limited to 10 kids, so make sure to reserve your tickets today. For details and more information, check out the event page on our website, or call (517) 999-7277. 

The Guadeloupe Carnaval

Carnaval is a major cultural event in Guadeloupe, the Caribbean archipelago/French department where I grew up. Festivities are loosely tied to the Christian calendar, roughly lasting from Epiphanie (January 6, the proverbial “12th day of Christmas”) and ending on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It’s a wild season of celebration full of music, costumes, and — of course — lots of great food, including beignets. I miss home even more during Carnaval as there is nothing similar to it in Lansing.

It actually starts on January 1 with a parade of the “groupes à peau,” who bring offerings to the sea. This tradition, called “ben demaré,” symbolizes leaving behind issues from the past year and asking for better luck for the coming year. Then over the subsequent weeks leading up to Mardi Gras (which falls between mid-February and early March), there are parades in cities around the island. Some of these parades are expected, others are impromptu.

Carnaval reaches fever pitch with three spectacular parades between Shrove Sunday (the Sunday before Lent) and Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent). The Carnaval groups showcase the results of weeks of hard work with elaborate floats and intricate dance numbers. Each year there is a new theme, and groups fight to get the first prize.

On Shrove Sunday, Carnaval parades compete in the afternoon in Pointe-à-Pitre, the largest city in Guadeloupe. The next evening, the parade is held in Basse-Terre, the island’s capital, with costumes and floats designed to light up at night. Then on Tuesday — the big day, Mardi Gras — it’s another afternoon affair, with another parade in Basse-Terre. The festivities end on Ash Wednesday, and an effigy of Vaval, the King of Carnival, is burned.

The uniqueness of Guadeloupe is seen on Ash Wednesday as the streets are filled with revelers dressed up in black and white. Contrary to the previous days, everybody is invited to be part of this parade. It’s not a contest — the only rule is to be dressed in black and white; most people just use whatever they already have in their closets. Everybody has another chance to perform without being part of a group on Tuesday during a pajama parade in multiple cities of Guadeloupe early in the morning.

Then, with one exception, everything gets subdued on the island until Easter. There are no real celebrations of any kind but there is a built-in release day: Mid-Lent Thursday. Falling exactly halfway between Ash Wednesday and Easter, it allows everyone who’s been “good for Lents” to revive the Carnaval mood for one day only, albeit with a mischievous twist. Celebrants dress up in red and black costumes, depicting themselves as devils.

Carnaval in Guadeloupe is a rich celebration based on more than a century of tradition. It would be impossible to try to recreate that in Lansing, but hopefully by sharing details about it — and sharing beignets with all my classes — I can inspire an appreciation for this special aspect of French culture here in mid-Michigan.

The Carnaval Celebration

This year, Aux Petits Soins is holding a series of monthly family-friendly get-togethers based around French holidays and traditions. Our first two events —  the King Cake Party in January and the Chandeleur Party in February — were resounding successes. I hope to carry that energy into this month’s celebration, the Carnaval Celebration.

Most Americans are familiar with Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) — or as I hear it called here in Michigan, “Paczki Day” — mostly because of its popularity in New Orleans. However, I’ve noticed that fewer people here in the U.S aren’t as familiar with Carnaval (Carnival), which is big in southern France and throughout the Caribbean, where there are many French departments … and therefore a lot of French history. In addition to serving as a good excuse to eat beignets — and if you’ve never had one before, prepare to have your life changed — the Aux Petits Soins Carnaval Celebration is designed to introduce Metro Lansing to this important part of French culture. 

The Carnaval Celebration will be held on March 26 at Hannah’s Koney Island in East Lansing. Please join us!

First Annual Chandeleur Party

This year, Aux Petits Soins will be holding a series of monthly family-friendly get-togethers based around French holidays and traditions. Our first event held last month, the King Cake Party, was a resounding success, and we look to carry that energy into this month’s celebration, the Chandeleur Party.

Chandeleur is a distinctly French tradition, which essentially consists of getting together with friends and family, eating crêpes and drinking cider — not a bad way to celebrate the halfway point of winter, no? There are an increasing number of French-themed business in mid-Michigan, and we’ve teamed up with one of the most high-profile ones —For Crêpe Sake, a crêperie in downtown Lansing — to throw the Chandeleur Party on Sunday, Feb. 26 from 3-5 p.m. There will be crêpes, cider, activities for the kids, a French lesson and more. The grown-ups will even get a chance to try their hand at crêpe fipping, which can be surprisingly difficult until you develop a technique. More details here.

Next month, I’ll be introducing Metro Lansing to the French celebration of Carnaval. While most Americans are aware of the French roots of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) — or, as I hear that it’s called here in Michigan, “Paczki Day” — most aren’t as familiar with Carnaval (Carnival), which is big in southern France and throughout the Caribbean, where there are many French departments and therefore a lot of French history. That party will be held March 26 at Hannah’s Koney Island in East Lansing. More details here.

Bonne fête du travail

May 1 is May Day, the French version of Labor Day. Besides having a day off from work, we also offer lilies of the valley — or muguets — to loved ones. The lily may be the symbol of springtime and of good luck, but try telling that to my garden — at this rate, my lilies won’t flower until the American Labor Day in September!

Bonne chandeleur!

For la Chandeleur, celebrated on February 2, we eat sweet and savory crêpes and drink hard cider. This is one of my favorite holiday, because making crêpe is easy and you put everything you can think of on it. You can read more about the origin of this French holiday in the Newsletter Vol2, Issue 1.

If you have a taste for crêpes, you can visit the breakfast/lunch crêperie in downtown Lansing, For crêpe sake or make our own following Gaëlle’s recipe. Both adult and kids will have a blast while cooking and eating.