Although the Russian still worth remembering that brought together with the draft, induced Cutting through the window to Europe, the Christmas-New Year's cult of Santa Claus, Saint-Nicolas, has something to do with the beloved Russian saints. For some reason which turned into "Santa Claus". But the kids all this quite rightly do not care. The main thing – let it be a Christmas tree, the smell, anxious and happy expectation.
In the West, too few people immediately identify the donor's white bearded red-faced with the legendary champion of orthodoxy. So let's leave miraculous remains of St. Nicholas, not that which existed, not that there is (what is the difference in the end, the main thing – it helps).
In Paris, the capital, which in the opinion of Pope Paul VI (1963-78) should be baptized again, the arrival of each new year is associated with the inevitable fall of the usual standard of living. "Well, again, invent new taxes …"
And I must say, inventing, the bastards. Either taxes, or even what kind of stuff. But first of all inventions gadskih government begin sales in the stores – "soldes". And the need to think about filing a tax return is partly offset by the ability to buy shoes or a piece of cheese is 30% below the regular price.
Already two months before Christmas in Paris – as well as in other centers of Western civilization – the virus begins to develop an imminent event. First, on TV, the press and the windows appear modest warning that this Christmas and New Year, dear compatriots, enjoy much better than last time. Moulinex has prepared for you the newest and self-improvement device for boiling frozen vegetables; philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy invented a new way to fight totalitarianism with the love of a democratic society; Abbe Pierre – you ought to think about their neighbors, nHest ce pas – again, found the money for devices free eating-houses for the homeless.
And further more, more, more. Showcases cafes and shops inside are filled with figures, "Saint Nicolas", goods, intertwined with holiday ribbon, synthetic pine boughs, Christmas and New Year wishes, shining tinsel and faience bibelotami depicting the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Magi – the Three Kings and the royal babe. Outside, they are all fat obleplivayutsya silicone foam, representing rare in these latitudes, snow.
And if the snow still falls, which happens at Christmas for some reason, the Parisians are crazy. So much so that most sports are taking skis, and instead of going to the Alps, arrange an ephemeral trace on the slopes of Montmartre. The end of this strange happening around slalom rag market Saint-Pierre, occupied mostly by Muslim shops. Older Arabs with the Koran in his hand, African matrons in bright dresses and adolescents who sell grass, looking puzzled. However, in the Arab cafes and shops, but the most fundamentalist, also arranged the sale, and Christian paraphernalia peacefully side by side on the wall with a quote from the Book, the Prophet received from heaven. Even kosher shops (except those that are in the household of the saints of the Hasidic sects bespredelschik) does not averse Goiskaya ornaments.
And further on, on, on. In the "average" the Frenchman but human reason to think (love, death, children, work, illness, joy), there are two motivations that organize its existence. This idea of a summer vacation and sado-masochistic meditation associated with the holidays of the year.
Holidays (translated by the way, Latin for "dog time") – God is with them. In this case, just kopish money, think for a long time, if you can travel with my family (and if not – what to do with children?) In the Jurassic mountains, Tunisia, the Antilles or in Polynesia. That would be good to buy a new swimsuit, a folding table for a picnic or a fancy sunglasses.
Not when the leaves begin to fall off chestnuts. A Frenchman once again realizes that money by the end of the year will be insufficient, but to do Christmas shopping still have. At the same time he waits for the holidays with an almost childish delight. He will give gifts, and he will give gifts.
That's the end of the year are usually made important acquisitions: a new refrigerator, computer, dishwasher, expensive clothes. Sales of cars and real estate also increases. Of course, this is accompanied by "highest wave" of advertising, falling on the population. In the Advent season, the average Frenchman is fully consistent with the image of omnivorous consumers, a member of the "prosperous konsumeristskogo society." Even though he lives in a prolonged economic stagnation, which is constantly hears from all sides and speaks. Perhaps, before the purchase was made with greater ease, but even now, trying to be frugal and discreet, trying not to buy unnecessary things clearly, a Parisian could hardly holds him.
Although the snow on the windows of a synthetic, but it cheers the heart. The bright tinsel, colored lights, silver rain, transforming the city, encouraging the most inveterate esthete. And what a luxury piled in grocery stores!
In the meat – carcasses of deer and wild boar, pheasant, quail, guinea fowl, turkeys and geese, lining up the barricades of the pates and various sausages. In nearby – a variety of scales glitter fish piled on the ice stone mountain oysters, dozens of species of mollusks and crustaceans in aquariums wiggling mustache lobster and crayfish. In cheese the air, it seems, is poured from a rainbow of flavors, exudes hundreds of types of cheese … Oh, and the green benches, and at other times like a botanical garden, a Christmas turn into the jungle, where the unimaginable tropical fruits are combined with porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, and fresh strawberries from the Netherlands – with fresh dates from Tunisia.
In the windows of the famous department stores are organized real puppet theaters. Jump on the padded snow deer, driven by the Saint-Nicolas, do something useful gnomes, floating, turning over the wings in an artificial sky, angels, bells ringing in the toy church. Special performances of such a luxury traditionally famous department store Bon Marche ("cheap") – perfect, however, is not relevant to its name – is located on the street Sevres. They come as an exhibition, bring their children, stand for hours, exchanging experiences, rejoice.
But the biggest joy for children – "manger" (la creche). This is a continuation of the tradition of "Christmas nativity scenes," puppet depicting Christmas in Bethlehem manger, the adoration of the Magi, Herod fanatic. Previously, "nurseries" were installed in churches, but now they have become mundane and entertainment, have been indirectly related to religion. The most important "nursery" of Paris and France are set on the square in front of town hall, Hotel de Ville. This is a huge tent, under one hundred meters long, inside of which is built the whole country, the whole world. The moon is shining, twinkling stars, the clouds are drawn in landscapes depicting different countries from Greenland to the Amazon, is a rich puppet life. The characters come from all over the ancient and the modern world. Then the wise men and kings, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, Snow White, and Donald Duck. And all this with the latest technology, lasers and all sorts of interactive computer systems. And round the tent stand, silver, artificial snow and shining toys, specially brought the mighty spruce.
As already mentioned, the French – the people in mass are not very religious. So the Christmas trip to the church is not required by custom. As a new year for us, Christmas is for the French – a holiday for the most part the family. We must take into consideration the fact that if the main holiday of the Orthodox Easter is, for Catholics and Protestants, even though being such in name only, it is – Christmas. On this day, remember the connection between generations. If possible, a feast is trying to unite the whole family. Always made gifts, each brings something for everyone. Gifts can be made and co-workers, friends and neighbors. At Christmas supposed to give some money and a small souvenir of the concierge, if available. This is called "etrenne". And be sure to sent greeting cards (now often via e-mail). It is clear how much trouble! We must think things through, to try to have personal gifts were fun, talking about your feelings. But still stay within budget.
But most importantly, of course, a Christmas dinner. Its menu is analyzed before the holiday and is calculated in the details. And, despite the fact that Christmas dinner has its own traditional laws for imagination always.
Thus, the gourmet pleasures of about Reveillon – the so-called in French Christmas dinner, which translated means roughly "the awakening".
According to custom, the menu always includes a bird – the turkey, goose or "chapon" (a special kind of chicken), as well as "foie gras" – goose foie fat or duck liver. And all kinds of desserts. But in each case food can vary, depending on the region from which the family, the tastes of its members, from culinary fashion.
Often called oyster supper, and to "Réveillon" host or hostess prone pomudrit. Apply just live oysters seem to have inadequate for such an important holiday. On the table may be hot oyster sauce of shallots, lemon and orange. May apply, and lobster or stuffed pike. Last, but rather, appears under the influence of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Almost always on the table will be sliced very thin layers of tenderest freshly smoked salmon. And a little bit of caviar: it is – a key sign of prosperity, the food is symbolic, for which many French people are willing to sell the home.
Foie gras – is also a sign of social satiety, and a good value "foie gras" is not inferior to eggs. I will not go into details of its preparation, to tell how the poor geese corn nuts and stuff, the details say that from what pineau de Charrentes, free port or brandy, which shall consist spice marinade, baked as "foie gras" and which species are available. Then we'll talk more about truffles, rare and expensive fungi that are normally added to the "foie gras". Saying only that it is extremely tasty dish.
As for the turkey or other poultry, there is an experienced chef has great opportunities to exhibit their talents. For example, a turkey stuffed with pork, fowl liver, mushrooms, truffles, "foie gras" and raisins. Or breasts Pintado (pintadeau – a young pintade, African turkey) with a whiskey and green pepper. Or quail with sauce of onions, celery, turnips, carrots, rosemary and black and green olives. Pintado, or stuffed with white blood sausage with truffles. Or duck marinated in grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, clementines, and anise. And what about the goose with herbs garnished with glazed pears and chestnuts! And why not "chapon" with nuts, white ham, fowl liver and celeriac puree. So just stick a turkey in the oven – is unworthy of a self-respecting owner.
Naturally, the closer to the French dessert table can not do without the cheese. Rather, the cheeses to the table on a large platter served a number of different cheeses. According to tradition, on Christmas reigns among them Roquefort.
As for us, the winter holidays are associated with citrus. I guess it went back to the days when these fruits were rare and exotic – many of us remember the teasing, magical mandarin scent, blending with the scent of a Christmas tree. Tangerines and France must be submitted to the Christmas table. In-kind and cooked. For example, homemade ice cream from the mandarins, tangerines from Charlotte. But can they serve, and to prepare dishes such as, for example, a hot salad of wild mushrooms, lettuce, young walnuts, goat cheese – and tangerines.
And the actual dessert. This is a triumph of chocolate in all forms. "Just a" chocolate candy (preferably, "Pralines" good Belgian firms) or chocolate cake with dried fruits and nuts, the cake, "the Queen of Sheba" (with almond and vanilla), chocolate mousse with vanilla, a citrus fruit, with saffron, "zahertort "to oranges …
Oh, and drinks. Of course, "Réveillon" accompanied by a heavy (but well-structured) libations. As expected, starting with "appetizer" for the appetite. A little bit of whiskey, port, gin-tonic. At the table – wine for each dish. And the good: the holiday are not supposed to be stingy. Oysters washed down with a cold is a dry wine from the Loire region, or Alsatian Riesling, the same applies to fish. By the "foie gras" put "Sauternes", a rare, expensive and very tasty golden natural sweet wine of Bordeaux. For a bird – a red, depending on the properties of the feed dish. If the food is pretty heavy, with a strong personal taste and aroma, the wine is served as a "corse", "dense", from Bordeaux, "Cahors" or "Tavel" or something like that. If the dish is more tender, then the wine should be easier – Burgundy, Anjou, or turenskoe. Of course, Christmas dinner would be complete without champagne.
Varieties of "champagne" set, they are different both in taste and price, from less than 100 francs to amounts rolled over for a thousand. The only law – it must be true "Champaghe", no "sparkling" and "frothy" and close to the table are not allowed. Champagne, like us, clink glasses at midnight, but it is not considered objectionable, and drink his oyster, "foie gras" or accompany them to dessert. In the last decade in France, there was a fashion for vodk
After dessert, it's time to coffee, cigars, pipes, peaceful and slow-talking. And "digestif", "digestive" to push all the more deeply absorbed in the body. Good to push brandy, Calvados, or "eau de vie" of the pear, plum, mirabelle.
It is clear that "Réveillon", starting at 9-10 o'clock pm, lasts about an hour before, when law-abiding French had already started to wake up. Then they kissed each other, go to "faire dodo" or "nager dans les plumes". The first expression – from the children's vocabulary, something like our "bainki." The second, "to swim in the feathers," more mature. Both mean one thing – a sweet, sniffing, resting, knowing that in the morning do not have to jump on the job, and battling with economic stagnation, to earn money.
After Christmas, the majority of French people have little or no work until the 6th of January. France – European champion on the device "bridges." If the two holidays are working days in an amount not more than a week, usually they are declared inoperative. Naturally, there are unhappy people – sanitation workers, politicians and financiers, merchants in the shops, postmen and ambulance doctors, as well as valiant defenders of the Motherland, which has to be at the service. But every Frenchman, whom the oath does not compel or need to work these days, with a clear conscience at rest. He earned a law written in the Constitution. Even the crimes during the Christmas holidays in France is made smaller than usual.
Some people just lying on the couch, watching TV, something to read, roam the town, chatting with friends, make love from the heart – according to statistics, in France, many children are born in late October. Others are leaving the city in all directions. Just in the province, to relatives, friends or on my own cottage. Others – the South, as far as possible, under the hot sun to get rid of the dank winter in Paris. Someone – in Brittany, breath in the salty ocean winds. Many people go into the mountains to ski. Skiing in France is very popular. Some Frenchmen are really the masters of slalom, downhill and "fristaylinga." But for most – a way to relax and, most importantly, a social mythology.
"Faire du ski" are a sign of belonging to the middle class. Like tennis. But lower down of riding or golf.