November 16, 2010 chartreusian

La fête de la Saint-Martin



On Friday I was looking through the kids cahier jaunes (yellow notebooks – it’s the way you communicate between parents & teacher/school) and noticed a little insert from the village for “La Fete de la St Martin” hmm.  Seeing as he is the namesake of our village – therein lies an opportunity for another cultural experience.  I read it and seemed to understand something about the kids parading through the town with lanterns.  buh…ok.

It was about 6:20 when I read it – and it started at 6:30.  Susan was cooking supper and two kids were in the bath – yet somehow we made it there in time to buy our 2Euro paper lanterns and get ready …for whatever it was that was going to take place.

Eventually some people who looked official (with their safety vests) started the processional  – and lead everyone there (there were probably 150 people or so) through the village.  Down past the school, back up to the main street – and back to the town square.  No explanation as to why we were doing this – what it meant, where the tradition comes from.  (Just follow along, smile & nod….is the name of the game living here it seems).

Our local police were directing the crowd to ensure that everyone was safe. Side Note: if you want a low-risk, low-key, low-stress police job – I’m going to say that Police Municipal de St Martin D’Uriage is about as good as it gets.  The one thing they do every day is direct traffic by the public school when there can be literally DOZENS of parents trying to get out of the parking lot onto the road (fun fact: not only do we not have a traffic light in our town, but neither do probably 3 towns in every direction)

When we got back to the place du village, there was chocolat chaud and pastries for the kids – because, there is nothing better than that right before supper!

The kids thought the whole thing was great. We got home before 8 or so – and the two younger kids went straight from the car to provide  a private mini-parade past Madame Ribo’s window, just to make sure she didn’t miss anything.  Next thing we knew they were over there playing play-doh with her and her grand-daughter.

The strangest thing about all of these kind of experiences – is that the kids just take them in stride, as if they were the most normal thing that could be imagined.

And you thought we had weird kids before we moved here….

Oh yes – one more thing that I really should add: as you can see by what the kids were wearing – it was absolutely freezing out.  Well, actually it was a bit rainy and 10, yes that’s right +10.  I do believe they have softened up a bit in the last few months.