Monday, February 14, 2011

à la française

The last few days at work I've been teaching the kiddos about Valentine's Day in America.  I always do a lesson on big holidays in America... Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas so far... and they always love it. France also celebrates la Saint Valentin, so I usually begin by asking the students what some of their traditions are in this country.  Gifts, flowers, chocolate... the usual.  They all knew about the holiday but none of them seemed excited about it.  On Friday, one of the teachers told me that in France, Saint Valentin is only celebrated by couples.  Ah.  No wonder a bunch of 8-year-olds seemed nonplussed.  They got excited about my pictures of candy hearts and chocolate and that's about it.

So I decided to point out the differences a little more clearly in my subsequent lessons.  "In America, Valentine's Day is a day to share with your friends and loved ones.  Tell your Mom 'I love you!' Give your sister a card.  Give your brother a hug.  Tell your best friend she's great."  I had them make cards at the end of the lesson and they finally started to get into it.

Aside from the whole consumerism bullshit that happens today, I actually really enjoy Valentine's Day.  The American version. When I was a kid I loved buying those cardboard boxes of my favorite cartoon character-themed Valentines at the grocery store...  even in high school I'd give them out to friends but save the one with some clever (subtle!) variation of Be Mine and stick it in my crush's locker(s).  I like sharing those red velvet cupcakes with a little heart sprinkle on top with my friends. I like the whole concept of having a valentine. It doesn't have to be serious, it can just be playful and mysterious.  In France it seems that you can only have a valentine if he is your copain. In America you can ask someone to be your valentine and it's not as serious.  It could be the start of something serious... but if you get turned down it's no big deal and you can just blame it on the dumb holiday of consumerism.  Hallmark made me do it!

Then again, there's something to be said for having a valentine à la française.

Thanks for the stickers, Mom.  (I love you!)  The kids loved them.

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