Laura is working on time at school. She comes home and proudly recites the days of the week, months, and seasons off to me along with their associations–Wednesday means no school, Saturday and Sunday are the weekend, December equals Christmas, January, New Year’s and the Galette des Rois, and so on. She has become obsessed with our calendar. If you ask me what I think of when I hear December, after the holidays and the Téléthon, the annual “calendrier de la poste” comes to mind.
Every December, French postal workers sell calendars to the people along their delivery route. Rather than sell the calendars at a specific price, you are free to choose how much you would like to donate–all the proceeds go to your mail carrier and there is a very strong incentive to buy the calendar. The calendar, or Postman’s almanac as it is also referred to, has its roots back in the 18th century! According to La Poste’s website, its “modern” look dates from 1810! You can find all your Saint’s Days, holidays, local maps and a multitude of random facts, a leftover from its almanac days.
This year, La Poste created a series of stamps that come in their own version of the calendar. I love it! The front cover features the first six months of the year, the back, the second half just like the real calendars. When you open it, not only stamps but random facts greet you. The calendar contains 12 stamps at the Forever Green rate (lettre verte). Each stamp corresponds to a month and highlights one of its key associations–Laura would be proud! Thus, a quick overview of the months:
January–“Le Mois du Blanc” In terms of shopping, January is synonymous with sales and bed linens! “Le blanc” here refers to sheets! Every January, stores push you to buy new sheets in January! Why? Marketing I supposed as I can’t come up with a better explanation!
February–Valentine’s Day! Love letters anyone?
March–Spring showers! (Living in Brittany, it feels like we have 12 months of spring showers.)
April–April Fool’s Day! Here in France, children (and some adults too) enjoy trying to pin fish to the back of people’s shirts! A light-hearted practical joke! I wonder if Elise will manage to get Laura this year…
May–Je porte bonheur. On May 1st, you can’t go far in France without seeing people selling lily of the valley or muguet de mai, the must-have good luck charm to start the month off with! Charles XI started the tradition in 1561 by offering lily of the valley flowers to his court. Who will you offer a bit of luck to this year?
June–Les feux de la Saint-Jean commemorate John the Baptist’s feast day on June 24. John’s feast day falls near the summer solstice and the tradition of celebrating the solstice and dancing around bonfires has been going on for centuries.
July–The Fireman’s Ball! July 14th is known worldwide as France’s national day but did you know that it’s also a great evening to go out dancing at your neighborhood fire station in Paris?
August–Vacation, vacation, vacation! If you want Paris to yourself, this is the month to go! All the Parisians have fled to the beaches and to the mountains! Enjoy the capital!
September–Back to school! No crying children either!
October–I have to admit I can not figure out where the romance-novel theme came from for October…neither can Anthony…nor our 85+ year old neighbor who is an almanac in her own right…
November–The End of WWI
December–Winter Sports, snow, skiing, sledding…but not where I live!
What would your calendar look like? Your stamp themes?