It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. From twinkling lights on trees, to the fast approaching school holidays, there is little doubt that everyone’s mind is turning towards the festive season around the world. With images of Christmas markets in London and Munich, hot wine in Paris, and many Christmas songs blaring from radios and iTunes, the spirit of the season is here.
However, as “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” the charity song by Band Aid 30, plays away, I have to ask this question of the French.
With only a week left to go before the big red man visits, it doesn’t seem like the French are feeling very jolly. At least in Marseille, where I am currently working, the Christmas markets are rather small and don’t offer much choice. There haven’t been any singing choirs or carols around the town. Most importantly, Christmas lights are lacking.
Without the usual decorations, there is a feeling of “Bah, humbug” here. Lots of decorations were only put up last week, and, with the exception of La Canebiere (the main street through the city centre), these are not very sparkly or Christmassy.
When I tell the children in my classes that we are going to talk about Christmas in the lessons this week, I am often greeted with a lot of passivity, no jovial and happy faces.
I have previously spent Christmas in Paris, and found all the festivities to be full of the usual wonderment, so I found myself asking why there was such a huge discrepancy and gap between the two cities, and which was representative of France.
Shockingly, it seems that most of the French are not spreading cheer this holiday season, according to a recent poll by YouGov.
When asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “I am looking forward to Christmas this year”, over half (57 per cent) of respondents in France said they weren’t getting excited for Santa’s arrival. None of the other countries that participated in the survey were nearly as gloomy.
Whether this is because of the economy, politics, or a more general mood prevailing in France is uncertain, but there seems to be the feeling that the Grinch really did steal Christmas here.
In Marseille, the mood is summed up by the canine community using the hastily put up and shockingly small Christmas trees as extra places to relieve themselves on the street.
Does it feel like Christmas where you are? Are you going home for the holidays?