Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bonne Année

After spending two weeks in snowy Utah with my family, it was a bit of a let-down to come back to France and find the world burdened by rain and fog without a single snowflake in sight. As our plane descended towards the Lyon airport, I was mystified by the whitish gray sea covering everything below with only a glimpse of Mont Blanc bordering the shrouded landscape. It didn't seem like a good omen. When I asked my taxi driver if there might be some snow soon, he unknowingly crushed my hopes by saying that snow is somewhat rare in this area of the country. What is boring January without some snow to make it lovely?

The view from our school window
So, imagine my little-kid-at-Christmas delight when I woke up to snow this morning! It's only a couple inches, but it's still BEAUTIFUL! :) Unfortunately, getting snow in an area where the locals consider it a rarity means that leaving the house to drive anywhere is really not a safe option...which of course didn't stop the Roneys from packing up the boys and driving to the airport to pick up missionaries this morning. What would have been a two-hour trip has apparently become a day-long adventure! Not to worry, though--that just gives me some time to tell you all about a rather interesting quirk I've recently noticed in French culture: the "bonne année voeux" (new year's best wishes).

In the U.S., we might wish someone a happy new year at midnight for a New Year's Eve party or in conjunction with Merry Christmas or perhaps on New Year's Day. But beyond that, we essentially ignore the best wishes and move on after the holiday season almost immediately--perhaps in an attempt to keep all of our new resolutions barreling forward. Not so in France. Apparently, it's perfectly normal to wish someone a happy new year throughout the entire month of January as long as it's the first time you've seen them since the holidays. But it doesn't stop there--wishing someone a happy new year is like opening a door for all the best wishes you could possibly dump into their lap--health, happiness, true love, wisdom, wealth--you name it! While part of me feels charmed by the idea of sincerely wishing others well, part of me is a bit confused to suddenly be at the receiving end of multiple drink-free toasts. It ultimately makes January much more interesting. :)

1 comment:

  1. I agree about the Lyonnais' inability to deal with snow. It snowed, I can't remember exactly, 6-12 inches when I was there and everything shut down. They cancelled church, buses. We walked from the Ecully soeurs apartment to the metro so we could walk to the other chapel where some of the missionaries were doing church for whoever could make it. I remember seeing some volunteers attempting to shovel our apartment driveway with dirt shovels--I wouldn't own a snow shovel either if it never snowed, but whew, it looked tedious.