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History of April Fools Day – Video Blog


Video Produced By: Jeremiah Warren

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.
20130401-113417.jpgIn Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many French late 19th to early 20th century April Fools’ Day postcards.The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness is an ambiguous reference in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of January 1 by Pope Gregory XIII as New Year’s Day of the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, sometimes questioned for earlier references.

Origins

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.
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In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon.[5] Thus, the passage originally meant 32 days after April, i.e. May 2, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “March 32”, i.e. April 1. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.

In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.

In the Middle Ages, up until the late 18th century, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. Many writers suggest that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates. The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century,[6] and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.

A study in the 1950s, by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie, found that in the UK and those countries whose traditions derived from there, the joking ceased at midday. But this practice appears to have lapsed in more recent years.

Source: Wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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Scores of 1940s-1950s Cars Found New In A Closed Dealership – Video/Audio Blog

A Cacophony of Classic Cars Heads To Auction

Lambrecht Chevrolet of Pierce, Neb., was like many Midwestern, small-town dealers — owned and operated by a family, with minimal overhead and little need for advertising since most customers were neighbors. Ray and Mildred Lambrecht ran the dealership with just one employee for 50 years before closing up, and later this year the Lambrechts will sell off a trove of 500-odd vehicles they’ve held onto over the decades — including roughly 50 with less than 10 miles on their odometers. It’s less a car sale than a time capsule auction.

While many of the cars in the Lambrecht collection were customer trade-ins that were left outside to rot, the Lambrechts would occasionally take something they couldn’t sell and just put it in storage. City folk might find it unthinkable to leave so many vehicles lying around for so many years, but there’s always more space in rural Nebraska, and the annual costs fall to zero quickly. I wouldn’t call it hoarding, but I know many people who gather old metal like this do form an attachment to their kingdom of rust; every ride has a story, even when there’s weeds growing around it. Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell, the Lambrecht’s daughter, says the decision to sell wasn’t an easy one for her parents, and that the cars “comprise a lifetime of hard work, tears, and joy.”

Fortunately for collectors, the Lambrechts preservation-through-neglect has created the type of barn finds that many search years to discover. Among the dozen low-miles pickups sits a 1956 Chevrolet Cameo pickup with an odometer reading of just over one mile, and a 1964 Chevy Impala with six miles that still has its original window sticker and the plastic sheeting that covered its red leather seats. Although even ardent Corvette fans look askance at the late ’70s models, the ’78 version here with five miles has an appeal that’s grown over time.

The rest of the 500-car list reads like an inventory of popular models from the ’50s and ’60s — Bel Airs, Corvairs and even a couple of Vegas — which the VanDerBrink Auction company is still documenting ahead of the sale in Pierce on Sept. 28-29, along with dozens of pieces of memorabilia, hubcaps and even a Corvette pedal car. You can see the auctioneer take a walk though the Lambrechts’ garage below:

Car collectors dream about finding a forgotten “new” classic car, discovered in a barn  or warehouse somewhere, covered in dust. This is that dream, only 500 times better….

A small-town Midwestern dealership in Pierce, Nebraska sold Chevrolets to local families  and first-time buyers for 50 years until it’s husband and wife team finally closed their doors seventeen years ago. Since then, a staggering inventory of 500 surviving cars, new & used, have been stored away, undriven for decades. Some 50 cars “brand new” Chevrolets from the 1950s and 60s have less than 10 miles on the odometer.

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Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of The New Jersey Shores Food and Boardwalks

Home Made Jersey Shore Video:

Tastes of the Jersey Shore

new jersey lobsters, new jersey crabs, old advertisment, old image, funny, crab suit

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By: Tom Wilk
From saltwater taffy to seafood dinners, the Jersey Shore has always offered vacationers plenty of options to satisfy any appetite. Author Karen L. Schnitzspahn takes a look at the foods that lined the boardwalks and filled the dinner plates at Shore restaurants in “Jersey Shore Food History: Victorian Feasts to Boardwalk Treats” (American Palate/The History Press; 2012).

“Food is a big part of the Shore culture,” she says, in explaining the inspiration for the book. A New Jersey native who lives in Little Silver, Schnitzspahn fondly recalls visiting her grandparents in Margate in the 1950s.

“I remember going to Hackney’s and ordering lobster as a child. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world,” she says. The Atlantic City restaurant accommodated up to 3,200 patrons and featured waitresses in lobster costumes at the Miss America parade and in promotional materials to highlight its signature dish.

Schnitzspahn shows how Shore cuisine has evolved from the 19th century to the present. An 1850 breakfast menu from Congress Hall in Cape May offers standard fare, such as scrambled eggs and fried potatoes. However, the first four items listed are unlikely to grace most breakfast tables today: beef steaks, mutton chops, fresh fish and tripe. “I think that was the European influence,” she says, as the breakfast offerings also included kidneys, liver and clam fritters.

Other popular dishes fell out of favor with the passage of time. Celia Brown’s, a Belmar drive-in, offered a pineapple with cream cheese sandwich for 20 cents in the mid-1930s. And restaurants were not above adding a side of hyperbole to their meals. “We make the best Chocolate Ice Cream Soda in the World or any other place,” Celia Brown’s menu proclaimed.

alan brechmna, 1979, atlatic ciyt, dip stix

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Schnitzspahn offers short profiles of Shore institutions, including Kohr Brothers ice cream, Max’s Famous Hot Dogs in Long Branch and the Knife and Fork Inn in Atlantic City. Interspersed through the book are 90 photographs and illustrations. Some demonstrate the visual element in marketing food and drink.

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Atlantic City celebrated the occasion with a merry-go-round bar that made it stand out from other watering holes. The WindMill restaurant in Long Branch remains a landmark that creates a lasting impression with its white vanes.

To give readers the opportunity to sample Shore cuisine through the ages, Schnitzspahn has reprinted more than 20 recipes. They range from an 1873 recipe for mock turtle soup served at the West End Hotel in Long Branch to a recipe for funnel cake, the popular boardwalk snack.

“I like to eat, but I don’t consider myself a foodie,” says Schnitzspahn, who tried out some of the recipes with her two grandchildren, including one for blancmange from the 19th century.

Today, she sees the Shore adapting to keep up with culinary trends, such as the farm-to-table movement and the growing demand for organic food. “There are now more vegetarian options and vegan restaurants,” she says.

Schnitzspahn believes Shore restaurants can handle all tastes. “There’s something for everybody, whether you want to hold a meal in your hand or sit down to a spectacular five-course dinner.”

View A Slide Show of 1900s New Jersey photos here.

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History of the New Jersey Board Walk

atlatic city, 1942, us army airforces

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Nothing is more New Jersey than its boardwalks. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents enjoy the unique entertainment that these iconic wooden pathways provide along the Jersey Shore.

Many towns along the state’s 130 miles of ocean coastline boast a boardwalk and each one has its own individuality. Family-friendly, bustling, romantic or sophisticated, Jersey Shore boardwalk towns have dozens of distinct styles that appeal to all ages.

The boardwalk as we know it today – a raised promenade of plank boards straddling the sandy coastline – first appeared in Atlantic City in 1870, making it the world’s first. Today, it’s also the world’s longest.

Its initial purpose was pragmatic, intending to minimize the amount of sand trafficked into seaside hotels and train cars, but it wasn’t long before the boardwalk was inserted into the public consciousness as a symbol of good times and easy living.

New Jersey boardwalks are very distinctive. Writer Jeff Schlegel put it best in an article in the Washington Post, when he stated candidly, “With all due respect to Coney Island and Virginia Beach, no place in the country matches the breadth and depth of boardwalk culture found along the Jersey Shore.”

atlatic city, black and white, 1967, tram car

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In addition to Atlantic City, Jersey Shore boardwalks offer something for everyone. The mile long boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach is a super family-friendly promenade with tons of rides and arcades for kids, a wide beach, restaurants, bars and even an aquarium.

To the south of Point Pleasant Beach is the Seaside Heights boardwalk that features the Casino and Funtown piers amusement parks. The mile long boardwalk is action-packed and one of the most popular and most visited in the state and is a magnet for young people. It’s full of game stands, rides, arcades and even a waterpark.

Near the southern most tip of New Jersey Wildwood has a total of five amusement piers, dozens of carnival games, souvenir shops, food stands, waterparks and world-class roller coasters. This bustling boardwalk draws tons of visitors to enjoy all the amusements, the expansive beach and the many special events.

For those seeking a quieter setting Spring Lake offers residents and vacationers alike an unhurried and peaceful atmosphere that has made the town a highly-desirable destination at the Jersey Shore for more than 100 years. Along with its uncluttered beach, the two-mile long boardwalk is the longest non-commercial boardwalk in New Jersey and provides a unique atmosphere for all visitors.

So, when in New Jersey, don’t miss out on the unforgettable experience of visiting our state’s boardwalks.

Compiled By: Josh Martin

Sources:
visitnj.com
Philly.com
NJ.com

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in History, Music Video, Uncategorized, Video Blog

 

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History of Labor Day – Video Blog

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Compiled By: Josh Martin
Sources: Department of labor

 

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French Culture Explained from an American perspective.

Culture of France

The culture of France and of the French people has been shaped by geography, by profound historical events, and by foreign and internal forces and groups. France, and in particular Paris, has played an important role as a center of high culture and of decorative arts since the 17th century, first in Europe, and from the 19th century on, world wide. From the late 19th century, France has also played an important role in cinema, fashion and cuisine. The importance of French culture has waxed and waned over the centuries, depending on its economic, political and military importance. French culture today is marked both by great regional and socioeconomic differences and by strong unifying tendencies.

Problems in defining “French” culture:

Wherever one comes from, “culture” consists of beliefs and values learned through the socialization process as well as material artifacts. “Culture is the learned set of beliefs, values, norms and material goods shared by group members. Culture consists of everything we learn in groups during the life course-from infancy to old age.”

The conception of “French” culture however poses certain difficulties and presupposes a series of assumptions about what precisely the expression “French” means. Whereas American culture posits the notion of the “melting-pot” and cultural diversity, the expression “French culture” tends to refer implicitly to a specific geographical entity (as, say, “metropolitan France”, generally excluding its overseas departments) or to a specific historico-sociological group defined by ethnicity, language, religion and geography. The realities of “Frenchness” however, are extremely complicated. Even before the late 18th-19th century, “metropolitan France” was largely a patchwork of local customs and regional differences that the unifying aims of the Ancien Régime and the French Revolution had only begun to work against, and today’s France remains a nation of numerous indigenous and foreign languages, of multiple ethnicities and religions, and of regional diversity that includes French citizens in Corsica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and elsewhere around the globe.

The creation of some sort of typical or shared French culture or “cultural identity”, despite this vast heterogeneity, is the result of powerful internal forces — such as the French educational system, mandatory military service, state linguistic and cultural policies — and by profound historic events — such as the Franco-Prussian war and the two World Wars — which have forged a sense of national identity over the last 200 years. However, despite these unifying forces, France today still remains marked by social class and by important regional differences in culture (cuisine, dialect/accent, local traditions) that many fear will be unable to withstand contemporary social forces (depopulation of the countryside, immigration, centralization, market forces and the world economy).

In recent years, to fight the loss of regional diversity, many in France have promoted forms of multiculturalism and encouraged cultural enclaves (communautarisme), including reforms on the preservation of regional languages and the decentralization of certain government functions, but French multiculturalism has had a harder time of accepting, or of integrating into the collective identity, the large non-Christian and immigrant communities and groups that have come to France since the 1960s.

The last 50 years has also seen French cultural identity “threatened” by global market forces and by American “cultural hegemony”. Since its dealings with the 1993 GATT free trade negotiations, France has fought for what it calls the exception culturelle, meaning the right to subsidize or treat favorably domestic cultural production and to limit or control foreign cultural products (as seen in public funding for French cinema or the lower VAT accorded to books). The notion of an explicit exception française however has angered many of France’s critics.

The French are often perceived as taking a great pride in national identity and the positive achievements of France (the expression “chauvinism” is of French origin) and cultural issues are more integrated in the body of the politics than elsewhere (see “The Role of the State”, below). The French Revolution claimed universalism for the democratic principles of the Republic. Charles de Gaulle actively promoted a notion of French “grandeur” (“greatness”). Perceived declines in cultural status are a matter of national concern and have generated national debates, both from the left (as seen in the anti-globalism of José Bové) and from the right and far right (as in the discourses of the National Front).

According to Hofstede’s Framework for Assessing Culture, the culture of France is moderately individualistic and high Power Distance Index.

Now, the interracial blending of some native French and newcomers stands as a vibrant and boasted feature of French culture, from popular music to movies and literature. Therefore, alongside mixing of populations, exists also a cultural blending (le métissage culturel) that is present in France. It may be compared to the traditional US conception of the melting-pot. The French culture might have been already blended in from other races and ethnicities, in cases of some biographical research on the possibility of African ancestry on a small number of famous French citizens. Author Alexandre Dumas, père possessed one-fourth black Haitian descent, and Empress Josephine Napoleon who was born and raised in the French West Indies from a plantation estate family. We can mention as well, the most famous French singer Edith Piaf whose grandmother was a North African from Kabylie.

For a long time, the only objection to such outcomes predictably came from the far-right schools of thought. In the past few years, other unexpected voices are however beginning to question what they interpret, as the new philosopher Alain Finkielkraut coined the term, as an “Ideology of miscegenation” (une idéologie du métissage) that may come from what one other philosopher, Pascal Bruckner, defined as the “Sob of the White man” (le sanglot de l’homme blanc). These critics have been dismissed by the mainstream and their propagators have been labelled as new reactionaries (les nouveaux réactionnaires), even if racist and anti-immigration sentiment has recently been documented to be increasing in France at least according to one poll.

Language:

The Académie française sets an official standard of language “purity”; however, this standard, which is not mandatory, is often ignored by the government itself: for instance, the left-wing government of Lionel Jospin pushed for the feminization of the names of some functions (madame la ministre) while the Académie pushed for some more traditional madame le ministre.

Some action has been taken by the government in order to promote French culture and the French language. For instance, there exists a system of subsidies and preferential loans for supporting French cinema. The Toubon law, from the name of the conservative culture minister who promoted it, makes it mandatory to use French in advertisements directed to the general public. Note that contrary to some misconception sometimes found in the Anglophone media, the French government neither regulates the language used by private parties in non-commercial settings, nor makes it compulsory that France-based WWW sites should be in French.

France counts many regional languages, some of them being very different from standard French such as Breton and Alsatian. Some regional languages are Roman, like French, such as Occitan. The Basque language is completely unrelated to French and, indeed, to any other language in the world; its area straddles the border between the south west of France and the north of Spain. Many of those languages have enthusiastic advocates; however, the real importance of local languages remains subject to debate. In April 2001, the Minister of Education, Jack Lang, admitted formally that for more than two centuries, the political powers of the French government had repressed regional languages, and announced that bilingual education would, for the first time, be recognized, and bilingual teachers recruited in French public schools. English is taught in schools as a second language.

A revision of the French constitution creating official recognition of regional languages was implemented by the Parliament in Congress at Versailles in July 2008.

Religion:

France is a secular country where freedom of thought and of religion is preserved, by virtue of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité, that is of freedom of religion (including of agnosticism and atheism) enforced by the Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 law on the separation of the State and the Church, enacted at the beginning of the Third Republic (1871–1940). A January 2007 poll found that 61% of the French population describe themselves as Roman Catholics, 21% as Atheists, 4% as Muslims, 3% as Protestants, 1% as Buddhists, and 1% as Jews. France guarantees freedom of religion as a constitutional right and the government generally respects this right in practice. A long history of violent conflict between groups led the state to break its ties to the Catholic Church early in the last century and adopt a strong commitment to maintaining a totally secular public sector.

Catholicism:

The Roman Catholic Church has always played a significant role in French culture and in French life. Most French people are Roman Catholic Christians, however many of them are secular but still place high value on Catholicism.

The Roman Catholic faith is no longer considered the state religion, as it was before the 1789 Revolution and throughout the various, non-republican regimes of the 19th century (the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Second Empire). The Official split of Catholic Church and State (“Séparation de l’Eglise et de l’Etat”) took place in 1905, and this major reform emphazises the Laicist and anti-clericalist mood of French Radical Republicans in this period.

At the beginning of the 20th century, France was a largely rural country with conservative Catholic mores, but in the hundred years since then, the countryside has become depopulated, and the population has largely become more secular. A December 2006 poll by Harris Interactive, published in The Financial Times, found that 32% of the French population described themselves as agnostic, a further 32% as atheist and only 27% believed in any type of God or supreme being.

Islam:

After Catholicism, Islam is the second largest faith in France today, and the country has the largest Muslim population (in percentage) of any Western European country. This is a result of immigration and permanent family settlement in France, from the 1960s on, of groups from, principally, North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia) and, to a lesser extent, other areas such as Turkey and West Africa. While it is prohibited in France for the government census to collect data on religious beliefs, estimates and polls place the percentage of Muslims at between 4% and 7%.

Judaism:

The current Jewish community in France numbers around 600,000, according to the World Jewish Congress and 500,000 according to the Appel Unifié Juif de France, and is found mainly in the metropolitan areas of Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg.

The history of the Jews in France dates back over 2,000 years. In the early Middle Ages, France was a center of Jewish learning, but persecution increased as the Middle Ages wore on. France was the first country in Europe to emancipate its Jewish population during the French Revolution, but despite legal equality anti-Semitism remained an issue, as illustrated in the Dreyfus affair of the late 19th century. However, through the 1870 Décret Crémieux, France secured full citizenship for the Jews in then French-ruled Algeria. Despite the death of a quarter of all French Jews during the Holocaust, France currently has the largest Jewish population in Europe.

French Jews are mostly Sephardic and span a range of religious affiliations, from the ultra-Orthodox Haredi communities to the large segment of Jews who are entirely secular.

Buddhism:

Buddhism is widely reported to be the fourth largest religion in France, after Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. France has over two hundred Buddhist meditation centers, including about twenty sizable retreat centers in rural areas. The Buddhist population mainly consists of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, with a substantial minority of native French converts and “sympathizers”. The rising popularity of Buddhism in France has been the subject of considerable discussion in the French media and academy in recent years.

Cults and new religious movements:

France created in 2006 the first French parliamentary commission on cult activities which led to a report registering a number of cults considered as dangerous. Supporters of such movements have criticized the report on the grounds of the respect of religious freedom. Proponents of the measure contend that only dangerous cults have been listed as such, and state secularism ensures religious freedom in France.

Regional customs and traditions:

Modern France is the result of centuries of nation building and the acquisition and incorporation of a number of historical provinces and overseas colonies into its geographical and political structure. These regions all evolved with their own specific cultural and linguistic traditions in fashion, religious observance, regional language and accent, family structure, cuisine, leisure activities, industry, etc.

The evolution of the French state and culture, from the Renaissance to today, has however promoted a centralization of politics, media and cultural production in and around Paris (and, to a lesser extent, around the other major urban centers), and the industrialization of the country in the 20th century has led to a massive move of French people from the countryside to urban areas. At the end of the 19th century, around 50% of the French depended on the land for a living; today French farmers only make up 6-7%, while 73% live in cities. Nineteenth century French literature abounds in scenes of provincial youth “coming up” to Paris to “make it” in the cultural, political or social scene of the capital (this scheme is frequent in the novels of Balzac). Policies enacted by the French Third Republic also encouraged this displacement through mandatory military service, a centralized national educational system, and suppression of regional languages. While government policy and public debate in France in recent years has returned to a valorization of regional differences and a call for decentralization of certain aspects of the public sphere (sometimes with ethnic, racial or reactionary overtones), the history of regional displacement and the nature of the modern urban environment and of mass media and culture have made the preservation of a regional “sense of place or culture” in today’s France extremely difficult.

The names of the historical French provinces — such as Brittany (Bretagne), Berry, Orléanais, Normandy (Normandie), Languedoc, Lyonnais, Dauphiné, Champagne, Poitou, Guyenne and Gascony (Gascogne), Burgundy (Bourgogne), Picardy (Picardie), Provence, Touraine, Limousin, Auvergne, Béarn, Alsace, Flanders, Lorraine, Corsica (Corse), Savoy (Savoie) — are still used to designate natural, historical and cultural regions, and many of them appear in modern région or département names. These names are also used by the French in their self-identification of family origin.

Regional identification is most pronounced today in cultures linked to regional languages and non-French-speaking traditions – French language itself being only a dialect of Langue d’oïl, the mother language of many of the languages to-be-mentioned, which became a national vehicular language, like (in alphabetical order): Alsatian, Arpitan, Basque, Brezhoneg (Breton), Burgundian, Corsu (Corsican), Català (Catalan), Francique, Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Occitan, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeais,etc., and some of these regions have promoted movements calling for some degree of regional autonomy, and, occasionally, national independence.

There are huge differences in life style, socioeconomic status and world view between Paris and the provinces. The French often use the expression “la France profonde” (“Deep France”, similar to “heartland”) to designate the profoundly “French” aspects of provincial towns, village life and rural agricultural culture, which escape the hegemony of Paris. The expression can however have a pejorative meaning, similar to the expression “le désert français” (“the French desert”) used to describe a lack of acculturation of the provinces. Another expression, “terroir” is a French term originally used for wine and coffee to denote the special characteristics that geography bestowed upon these products. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place” which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment (especially the “soil”) has had on the growth of the product. The use of the term has since been generalized to talk about many cultural products.

In addition to its metropolitan territory, France also consists of overseas departments made up of its former colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana in the Caribbean, and Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. (There also exist a number of “overseas collectivities” and “overseas territories”. For a full discussion, see administrative divisions of France. Since 1982, following the French government’s policy of decentralisation, overseas departments have elected regional councils with powers similar to those of the regions of metropolitan France. As a result of a constitutional revision which occurred in 2003, these regions are now to be called overseas regions.) These overseas departments have the same political status as metropolitan departments and are integral parts of France, (similar to the way in which Hawaii is a state and an integral part of the United States), yet they also have specific cultural and linguistic traditions which set them apart. Certain elements of overseas culture have also been introduced to metropolitan culture (as, for example, the musical form the biguine).

Industrialization, immigration and urbanization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have also created new socioeconomic regional communities in France, both urban (like Paris, Lyon, Villeurbanne, Lille, Marseille, etc.) and the suburban and working class hinterlands (like Seine-Saint-Denis) of urban agglomerations (called variously banlieues (“suburbs”, sometimes qualified as “chic” or “pauvres”) or les cités (“housing projects”) which have developed their own “sense of place” and local culture (much like the various boroughs of New York City or suburbs of Los Angeles), as well as cultural identity.

Other specific communities:

Paris has traditionally been associated with alternative, artistic or intellectual subcultures, many of which involved american foreigners. Such subcultures include the “Bohemians” of the mid-nineteenth century, the Impressionists, artistic circles of the Belle époque (around such artists as Picasso and Alfred Jarry), the Dadaists, Surrealists, the “Lost Generation” (Hemingway, Gertrude Stein) and the post-war “intellectuals” associated with Montparnasse (Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir).

France has an estimated 280,000-340,000 Roma, generally known as Gitans, Tsiganes, Romanichels (slightly pejorative), Bohémiens, or Gens du voyage (“travellers”).

There are gay and lesbian communities in the cities, particularly in the Paris metropolitan area (such as in Le Marais district of the capital). Although homosexuality is perhaps not as well tolerated in France as in American, Canada, Spain, Scandinavia, and the Benelux nations, surveys of the French public reveal a considerable shift in attitudes comparable to other Western European nations. As of 2001, 55% of the French consider homosexuality “an acceptable lifestyle.” The current mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, is gay. In 2006, an Ipsos survey shows that 62% support same-sex marriage, while 37% were opposed. 55% believed gay and lesbian couples should not have parenting rights, while 44% believe same-sex couples should be able to adopt.

Social class:

Despite the egalitarian aspects of French society, French culture remains marked by social-economic class and by many class distinctions.

Household structure:

Growing out of the values of the Catholic Church and rural communities, the basic unit of French society was traditionally held to be the family. Over the twentieth century, the “traditional” family structure in France has evolved from extended families to, after World War II, nuclear families. Since the 1960s, marriages have decreased and divorces have increased in France, and divorce law and legal family status have evolved to reflect these social changes.

According to INSEE figures, household and family composition in metropolitan France continues to evolve. Most significantly, from 1982 to 1999, single parent families have increased from 3.6% to 7.4%; there have also been increases in the number of unmarried couples, childless couples, and single men (from 8.5% to 12.5) and women (from 16.0% to 18.5%). Their analysis indicates that “one in three dwellings are occupied by a person living alone; one in four dwellings are occupied by a childless couple..”

Voted by the French Parliament in November 1999 following some controversy, the pacte civil de solidarité (“civil pact of solidarity”) commonly known as a PACS, is a form of civil union between two adults (same-sex or opposite-sex) for organizing their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage. From a legal standpoint, a PACS is a “contract” drawn up between the two individuals, which is stamped and registered by the clerk of the court. Individuals who have registered a PACS are still considered “single” with regard to family status for some purposes, while they are increasingly considered in the same way as married couples are for other purposes. While it was pushed by the government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 1998, it was also opposed, mostly by people on the right-wing who support traditionalist family values and who argued that PACS and the recognition of homosexual unions would be disastrous for French society.

Currently, same-sex marriage is legally recognized in France. However, same sex marriage was a large contributing factor in the presidential election of 2012 between Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, who represents the right-wing UMP party opposed gay marriage, while Francois Hollande, of the left wing socialist party (France) supported it. Hollande was elected in May 2012 and the French legislative branch is currently in the process of writing and enacting a law for same-sex marriage.

Role of the State:

The French state has traditionally played an important role in promoting and supporting culture through the educational, linguistic, cultural and economic policies of the government and through its promotion of national identity. Because of the closeness of this relationship, cultural changes in France are often linked to, or produce, political crisis.

The relationship between the French state and culture is an old one. Under Louis XIII’s minister Richelieu, the independent Académie française came under state supervision and became an official organ of control over the French language and seventeenth-century literature. During Louis XIV’s reign, his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert brought French luxury industries, like textile and porcelain, under royal control and the architecture, furniture, fashion and etiquette of the royal court (particularly at the Château de Versailles) became the preeminent model of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half of the seventeenth century.

At times, French state policies have sought to unify the country around certain cultural norms, while at other times they have promoted regional differences within a heterogeneous French identity. The unifying effect was particularly true of the “radical period”” of the French Third Republic which fought regionalisms (including regional languages), supported anti-clericalism and a strict separation of church from state (including education) and actively promoted national identity, thus converting (as the historian Eugen Weber has put it) a “country of peasants into a nation of Frenchmen”. The Vichy Regime, on the other hand, promoted regional “folk” traditions.

The cultural policies of the (current) French Fifth Republic have been varied, but a consensus seems to exist around the need for preservation of French regionalisms (such as food and language) as long as these don’t undermine national identity. Meanwhile, the French state remains ambivalent over the integration into “French” culture of cultural traditions from recent immigrant groups and from foreign cultures, particularly American culture (movies, music, fashion, fast food, language, etc.). There also exists a certain fear over the perceived loss of French identity and culture in the European system and under American “cultural hegemony”.

Education:

The French educational system is highly centralised. It is divided into three different stages: primary education, or enseignement primaire, corresponding to grade school in the United States; secondary education, or collège and lycée, corresponding to middle and high school in the United States; and higher education (l’université or les Grandes écoles).

Primary and secondary education is predominantly public (private schools also exist, in particular a strong nationwide network of primary and secondary Catholic education), while higher education has both public and private elements. At the end of secondary education, students take the baccalauréat exam, which allows them to pursue higher education. The baccalauréat pass rate in 2012 was 84.5%.

In 1999–2000, educational spending amounted to 7% of the French GDP and 37% of the national budget.

France’s performance in math and science at the middle school level was ranked 23 in the 1995 Trends in International Math and Science Study.

Since the Jules Ferry laws of 1881-2, named after the then Minister of Public Instruction, all state-funded schools, including universities, are independent from the (Roman Catholic) Church. Education in these institutions is free. Non-secular institutions are allowed to organize education as well. The French educational system differs strongly from Northern-European and American systems in that it stresses the importance of partaking in a society as opposed to being responsibly independent.

Secular educational policy has become critical in recent issues of French multiculturalism, as in the “affair of the Islamic headscarf”.

Minister of Culture:

The Minister of Culture is in the Government of France, the cabinet member in charge of national museums and monuments; promoting and protecting the arts (visual, plastic, theatrical, musical, dance, architectural, literary, televisual and cinematographic) in France and abroad; and managing the national archives and regional “maisons de culture” (culture centres). The Ministry of Culture is located on the Palais Royal in Paris.

The modern post of Minister of Culture was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1959 and the first Minister was the writer André Malraux. Malraux was responsible for realizing the goals of the “droit à la culture” (“the right to culture”) — an idea which had been incorporated in the French constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) — by democratizing access to culture, while also achieving the Gaullist aim of elevating the “grandeur” (“greatness”) of post-war France. To this end, he created numerous regional cultural centres throughout France and actively sponsored the arts. Malraux’s artistic tastes included the modern arts and the avant-garde, but on the whole he remained conservative.

The Ministry of Jacques Toubon was notable for a number of laws (the “Toubon Laws”) enacted for the preservation of the French language, both in advertisements (all ads must include a French translation of foreign words) and on the radio (40% of songs on French radio stations must be in French), ostensibly in reaction to the presence of English.

Académie française:

The Académie française, or the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte (the Académie considers itself having been suspended, not suppressed, during the revolution). It is the oldest of the five académies of the Institut de France.

The Académie consists of forty members, known as immortels (immortals). New members are elected by the members of the Académie itself. Académicians hold office for life, but they may be removed for misconduct. The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government.

Military service:

Until 1996, France had compulsory military service of young men. This has been credited by historians for further promoting a unified national identity and by breaking down regional isolationism.

Labor and employment policy:

In France, the first labour laws were Waldeck Rousseau’s laws passed in 1884. Between 1936 and 1938 the Popular Front enacted a law mandating 12 days (2 weeks) each year of paid vacation for workers, and a law limiting the work week to 40 hours, excluding overtime. The Grenelle accords negotiated on May 25 and 26th in the middle of the May 1968 crisis, reduced the working week to 44 hours and created trade union sections in each enterprise. The minimum wage was also increased by 25%. In 2000 Lionel Jospin’s government then enacted the 35-hour workweek, down from 39 hours. Five years later, conservative prime minister Dominique de Villepin enacted the New Employment Contract (CNE). Addressing the demands of employers asking for more flexibility in French labour laws, the CNE sparked criticism from trade unions and opponents claiming it was lending favour to contingent work. In 2006 he then attempted to pass the First Employment Contract (CPE) through a vote by emergency procedure, but that it was met by students and unions’ protests. President Jacques Chirac finally had no choice but to repeal it.

Healthcare and social welfare:

The French are profoundly committed to the public healthcare system (called “sécurité sociale”) and to their “pay-as-you-go” social welfare system.

In 1998, 75% of health payments in France were paid through the public healthcare system. Since 27 July 1999, France has a universal medical coverage for permanent residents in France (stable residence for more than three months). Using five performance indicators to measure health systems in 191 member states, it finds that France provides the best overall health care followed among major countries by Italy, Spain, Oman, Austria and Japan (The World Health Report).

Lifestyle:

Traditional French culture places a high priority on the enjoyment of food, while not actually eating a sustaining portion. French cuisine was codified in the 20th century by Georges Auguste Escoffier to become the modern version of haute cuisine. Escoffier’s major work, however, left out much of the regional character to be found in the provinces of France. Gastro-tourism and the Guide Michelin helped to bring people to the countryside during the 20th century and beyond, to sample this rich bourgeois and peasant cuisine of France. Basque cuisine has also been a great influence over the cuisine in the southwest of France.

Ingredients and dishes vary by region. There are many significant regional dishes that have become both national and regional. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated in different variations across the country in the present day. Cheese and wine are also a major part of the cuisine, playing different roles both regionally and nationally with their many variations and Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) (regulated appellation) laws, (lentils from Le Puy-en-Velay also have an AOC status). Another French product of special note is the Charolais cattle.

The French typically eat only a simple breakfast (“petit déjeuner”) which consists of coffee or tea, served traditionally in a large handleless “bol” (bowl) and bread or breakfast pastries (croissants). Lunch (“déjeuner”) and dinner (“dîner”) are the main meals of the day. Formal four course meals consist of a starter course (“entrée”), a salad, a main course (“plat principal”), and finally a cheese or dessert course. While French cuisine is often associated with rich desserts, in most homes dessert consists of only fruit and / or yogurt.

Food shopping in France was formerly done almost daily in small local shops and markets, but the arrival of the supermarket and the even larger “hypermarchés” (large-surface distributors) in France have disrupted this tradition. With depopulation of the countryside, many towns have been forced to close shops and markets.

Rates of obesity and heart disease in France have traditionally been lower than in other north-western European countries. This is sometimes called the French paradox. French cuisine and eating habits have however come under great pressure in recent years from modern fast food, American products and the new global agricultural industry. While French youth culture has gravitated toward fast food and American eating habits (with an attendant rise in obesity), the French in general have remained committed to preserving certain elements of their food culture through such activities as including programs of taste acquisition in their public schools, by the use of the appellation d’origine contrôlée laws, and by state and European subsides to the French agricultural industry. Emblematic of these tensions is the work of José Bové, who founded in 1987, the Confédération Paysanne, an agricultural union that places its highest political values on humans and the environment, promotes organic farming and opposes genetically modified organisms; Bové’s most famous protest was the dismantling of a McDonald’s franchise in Millau (Aveyron), in 1999.

In France, cutlery is used in the continental manner (with the fork in the left hand, prongs facing down and the knife in the right hand). French etiquette prohibits the placing of hands below the table and the placing of elbows on it.

The legal drinking age is officially 18 .

France is one of the oldest wine producing regions of Europe. France now produces the most wine by value in the world (although Italy rivals it by volume and Spain has more land under cultivation for wine grapes). Bordeaux wine, Bourgogne wine and Champagne are important agricultural products.

Tobacco and drugs:

The cigarette smoking age is 18 years. According to a widespread cliché, smoking has been part of French culture — actually figures indicate that in terms of consumption per capita, France is only the 60th country out of 121.

France, from 1 February 2007, tightened the existing ban on smoking in public places found in the 1991 (although you couldn’t tell by visiting) Évin law: Law n°91-32 of 10 January, 1991, containing a variety of measures against alcoholism and tobacco consumption.

Smoking is now banned in all public places (stations, museums, etc.); an exception exists for special smoking rooms fulfilling drastic conditions, see below. A special exemption was made for cafés and restaurants, clubs, casinos, bars, etc. which ended, 1 January 2008. Opinion polls suggest 70% of people support the ban.Previously, under the former implementation rules of the 1991 Évin law, restaurants, cafés etc. just had to provide smoking and non-smoking sections, which in practice were often not well separated.

Under the new regulations, smoking rooms are allowed, but are subjected to very strict conditions: they may occupy at most 20% of the total floor space of the establishment and their size may not be more than 35 m²; they need to be equipped with separate ventilation which replaces the full volume of air ten times per hour; the air pressure of the smoking room must constantly be lower than the pressure in the contiguous rooms; they have doors that close automatically; no service can be provided in the smoking rooms; cleaning and maintenance personnel may enter the room only one hour after it was last used for smoking.

Popular French cigarette brands include Gauloises and Gitanes.

The possession, sale and use of cannabis (predominantly Moroccan hashish) is illegal in France. Since 1 March 1994, the penalties for cannabis use are from two months to a year and/or a fine, while possession, cultivation or trafficking of the drug can be punished much more severely, up to ten years. According to a 1992 survey by SOFRES, 4.7 million French people ages 12–44 have smoked cannabis at least once in their lives.

Sports and hobbies:

Football (French: Le Foot) is the most popular sport in France. Other popular sports played in France are rugby union, cycling, tennis, handball, basketball and sailing. France is notable for holding and winning the FIFA World Cup in 1998, and holding the annual cycling race Tour de France, and the tennis Grand Slam tournament the French Open. Sport is encouraged in school, and local sports clubs receive financial support from the local governments. While football is definitely the most popular, rugby union and rugby league takes dominance in the southwest, especially around the city of Toulouse.

The modern Olympics was invented in France, in 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin.

Professional sailing in France is centred on singlehanded and shorthanded ocean racing with the pinnacle of this branch of the sport being the Vendee Globe singlehanded around the world race which starts every 4 years from the French Atlantic coast. Other significant events include the Solitaire du Figaro, Mini Transat 6.50, Tour de France a Voile and Route du Rhum transatlantic race. France has been a regular competitor in the America’s Cup since the 1970s.

Important sports include:

24 Hours of Le Mans – The world’s oldest sports car race.
Skiing – France has an extensive number of ski resorts in the French alps such as Tignes. Ski resorts are also located in the Pyrénées and Vosges mountain chains.
Pétanque – The international federation is recognized by the IOC.
Fencing – Fencing leads the list of sports for which gold medals were won for France at the Summer Olympics (see: France at the Olympics).
Parkour – Developed in France, Parkour is a training discipline with similarities to self-defense or martial arts.
Babyfoot (table football) – A very popular pastime in bars and homes in France, and the French are the predominant winners of worldwide table football competitions.
Kitesurfing
Like other cultural areas in France, sport is overseen by a government ministry, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports (France) which is in charge of national and public sport associations, youth affairs, public sports centers and national stadia (like the Stade de France).

Fashion:

Paris is the leading capital of fashion and design. Along with Milan, London and New York, Paris is center of an important number of fashion shows. Some of the world’s biggest fashion houses (ex: Chanel) have their headquarters in France.

The association of France with fashion (French: la mode) dates largely to the reign of Louis XIV when the luxury goods industries in France came increasingly under royal control and the French royal court became, arguably, the arbiter of taste and style in Europe.

France renewed its dominance of the high fashion (French: couture or haute couture) industry in the years 1860–1960 through the establishing of the great couturier houses, the fashion press (Vogue was founded in 1892; Elle was founded in 1945) and fashion shows. The first modern Parisian couturier house is generally considered the work of the Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who dominated the industry from 1858-1895. In the early twentieth century, the industry expanded through such Parisian fashion houses as the house of Chanel (which first came to prominence in 1925) and Balenciaga (founded by a Spaniard in 1937). In the post war year, fashion returned to prominence through Christian Dior’s famous “new look” in 1947, and through the houses of Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy (opened in 1952). In the 1960s, “high fashion” came under criticism from France’s youth culture while designers like Yves Saint Laurent broke with established high fashion norms by launching prêt-à-porter (“ready to wear”) lines and expanding French fashion into mass manufacturing and marketing. Further innovations were carried out by Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin. With a greater focus on marketing and manufacturing, new trends were established in the 70s and 80s by Sonia Rykiel, Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix. The 1990s saw a conglomeration of many French couture houses under luxury giants and multinationals such as LVMH.

Since the 1960s, France’s fashion industry has come under increasing competition from London, New York, Milan and Tokyo, and the French have increasingly adopted foreign (particularly American) fashions (such as jeans, tennis shoes). Nevertheless, many foreign designers still seek to make their careers in France.

Pets:

In 2006, 52% of French households had at least one pet: In total, 9.7 million cats, 8.8 million dogs, 2.3 million rodents, 8 million birds, and 28 million fish were kept as pets in France during this year.

Art and museums:

The first paintings of France are those that are from prehistoric times, painted in the caves of Lascaux well over 10,000 years ago. The arts were already flourishing 1,200 years ago, at the time of Charlemagne, as can be seen in many hand made and hand illustrated books of that time.

Classic painters of the 17th century in France are Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. During the 18th century the Rococo style emerged as a frivolous continuation of the Baroque style. The most famous painters of the era were Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. At the end of the century, Jacques-Louis David and Dominique Ingres were the most influential painters of the Neoclassicism.

Géricault and Delacroix were the most important painters of the Romanticism. Afterwards, the painters were more realistic, describing nature (Barbizon school). The realistic movement was led by Courbet and Honoré Daumier. Impressionism was developed in France by artists such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro. At the turn of the century, France had become more than ever the center of innovative art. The Spaniard Pablo Picasso came to France, like many other foreign artists, to deploy his talents there for decades to come. Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Cézanne were painting then. Cubism is an avant-garde movement born in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Louvre in Paris is one of the most famous and the largest art museums in the world, created by the new revolutionary regime in 1793 in the former royal palace. It holds a vast amount of art of French and other artists, e.g. the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, and classical Greek Venus de Milo and ancient works of culture and art from Egypt and the Middle East.

Music:

France boasts a wide variety of indigenous folk music, as well as styles played by immigrants from Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the field of classical music, France has produced a number of legendary composers, like Gabriel Faure, while modern pop music has seen the rise of popular French hip hop, French rock, techno/funk, and turntablists/djs.

The Fête de la Musique was created in France (first held in 1982), a music festival, which has since become worldwide. It takes place every June 21, on the first day of summer.

Cinema:

France is the birthplace of cinema and was responsible for many of its early significant contributions. Several important cinematic movements, including the Nouvelle Vague, began in the country, long ago.

Additionally, France is an important Francophone film production country. A certain amount of the movies created share international distribution in the western hemisphere thanks to Unifrance. Although French cinema industry is rather small in terms of budget and revenues, it enjoys qualitative screenplay, cast and story telling. French Cinema is often portrayed as more liberal in terms of subjects (Sex, Society, Politics, Historical) and therefore often gets critical acclaim. Within the domestic market, French movies are ranked through n° of entries. Movies are premiered on Wednesdays.

Most famous genres are:

– Romantic Drama Heartbreaker (l’Arnacoeur)
– Comedy Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (les Visiteurs) (la Cité de la Peur) (La grande Vadrouille)
– Society La Haine
– Historical Cyrano de Bergerac
– Political / Animation: Persepolis
French actors appear and star in Hollywood productions, such as Vincent Cassel and Marion Cotillard.

“Going to the movies” is a popular activity within metropolitan areas. Many cinema operators offer a “flat-rate pass” for approx. 30€ per month. Prices per movie range Between 5€50 to 10€.

French major cinema operators are UGC and Pathé, mainly located in city suburbs due to the number of screens and seating capacity.

Within France many “small” cinemas are located in the downtown parts of a city, resisting the big cinema operators nationwide. Another element is that Paris has the highest density of cinemas (movie theaters) in the world: biggest number of movie theaters per inhabitants, and that in most “downtown Paris” movie theaters, foreign movies which would be secluded to “art houses” cinemas in other places, are shown alongside “mainstream” works as Parisians are avid movie-goers. Proximity of restaurants, accessibility, ambiance and the showing of alternative foreign movies is often cited as being the advantage of these small theaters.

The Cinémathèque Française holds one of the largest archives of films, movie documents and film-related objects in the world. Located in Paris, the Cinémathèque holds daily screenings of films unrestricted by country of origin.

Books, newspapers and magazines:

France has the reputation of being a “literary culture”, and this image is reinforced by such things as the importance of French literature in the French educational system, the attention paid by the French media to French book fairs and book prizes (like the Prix Goncourt, Prix Renaudot or Prix Femina) and by the popular success of the (former) literary television show “Apostrophes” (hosted by Bernard Pivot).

Although the official literacy rate of France is 99%, some estimates have placed functional illiteracy at between 10% and 20% of the adult population (and higher in the prison population).

While reading remains a favorite pastime of French youth today, surveys show that it has decreased in importance compared to music, television, sports and other activities. The crisis of academic publishing has also hit France (see, for example, the financial difficulties of the Presses universitaires de France (PUF), France’s premier academic publishing house, in the 1990s).

Literary taste in France remains centered on the novel (26.4% of book sales in 1997), although the French read more non-fiction essays and books on current affairs than the British or Americans. Contemporary novels, including French translations of foreign novels, lead the list (13% of total books sold), followed by sentimental novels (4.1%), detective and spy fiction (3.7%), “classic” literature (3.5%), science fiction and horror (1.3%) and erotic fiction (0.2%). About 30% of all fiction sold in France today is translated from English (authors such as William Boyd, John le Carré, Ian McEwan, Paul Auster and Douglas Kennedy are well received).

An important subset of book sales is comic books (typically Franco-Belgian comics like Tintin and Astérix) which are published in a large hardback format; comic books represented 4% of total book sales in 1997. French artists have made the country a leader in the graphic novel genre and France hosts the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe’s preeminent comics festival.

Like other areas of French culture, book culture is influenced, in part, by the state, in particular by the “Direction du livre et de la lecture” of the Ministry of Culture, which oversees the “Centre national du livre” (National Book Center). The French Ministry of Industry also plays a role in price control. Finally, the VAT for books and other cultural products in France is at the reduced rate of 5.5%, which is also that of food and other necessities.

In terms of journalism in France, the regional press (see list of newspapers in France) has become more important than national dailies (such as Le Monde and Le Figaro) over the past century: in 1939, national dailies were 2/3 of the dailies market, while today they are less than 1/4. The magazine market is currently dominated by TV listings magazines followed by news magazines such as Le Nouvel Observateur, L’Express and Le Point.

Architecture and housing:

There are significant differences in lifestyles with respect to transportation between very urbanized regions such as Paris, and smaller towns and rural areas. In Paris, and to a lesser extent in other major cities, many households do not own an automobile and simply use mass transportation.The cliché about the parisien is rush hour in the Métro subway. However, outside of such areas, ownership of one or more cars is standard, especially for households with children.

The TGV high speed rail network, train à grande vitesse is a fast rail transport which serves several areas of the country and is self-financing. There are plans to reach most parts of France and many other destinations in Europe in coming years. Rail services to major destinations are punctual and frequent.

Holidays:

Despite the principles of laïcité and the separation of church from state, public and school holidays in France generally follow the Roman Catholic religious calendar (including Easter, Christmas, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Assumption of Mary, All Saints Day, etc.). Labor Day and the National Holiday are the only business holidays determined by government statute; the other holidays are granted by convention collective (agreement between employers’ and employees’ unions) or by agreement of the employer.

The five holiday periods of the public school year are:

the vacances de la Toussaint (All Saints Day) – one and a half weeks starting near the end of October.
the vacances de Noël (Christmas) – two weeks, ending after New Years.
the vacances d’hiver (winter) – two weeks in February and March.
the vacances de printemps (spring), formerly vacances de Pâques (Easter) – two weeks in April and May.
the vacances d’été (summer), or grandes vacances (literally: big holidays) – two months in July and August.
On May 1, Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) the French give flowers of Lily of the Valley (Le Muguet) to one another.

The National holiday (called Bastille Day in English) is on the 14 of July. Military parades, called Défilés du 14 juillet, are held, the largest on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic.

On November 2, All Souls Day (La Fête des morts), the French traditionally bring chrysanthemums to the tombs of departed family members.

On November 11, Remembrance Day (Le Jour de la Commémoration or L’ Armistice) is an official holiday.

Christmas is generally celebrated in France on Christmas Eve by a traditional meal (typical dishes include oysters, boudin blanc and the bûche de Noël), by opening presents and by attending the midnight mass (even among Catholics who do not attend church at other times of the year).

Candlemas (La Chandeleur) is celebrated with crêpes. The popular saying is that if the cook can flip a crêpe singlehandedly with a coin in the other hand, the family is assured of prosperity throughout the coming year.

The Anglo-Saxon and American holiday Halloween has grown in popularity following its introduction in the mid-1990s by the trade associations. The growth seems to have stalled during the following decade.

Conventions:

France is the home of the International System of Units (the metric system). Some pre-metric units are still used, essentially the livre (a unit of weight equal to half a kilogram) and the quintal (a unit of weight equal to 100 kilograms).
In mathematics, France uses the infix notation like most countries. For large numbers the long scale is used. Thus, the French use the word billion for the number 1,000,000,000,000, which in countries using short scale is called a trillion. However, there exists a French word, milliard, for the number 1,000,000,000, which in countries using the short scale is called a billion. Thus, despite the use of the long scale, one billion is called un milliard (“one milliard”) in French, and not mille millions (“one thousand million”). It should also be noted that names of numbers above the milliard are rarely used. Thus, one trillion will most often be called mille milliards (“one thousand milliard”) in French, and rarely un billion.
In the French numeral notation, the comma (,) is the decimal separator, whereas a space is used between each group of three digits (fifteen million five hundred thousand and thirty-two should be written as 15 500 032). In finance, the currency symbol is used as a decimal separator or put after the number. For example, €25,048.05 is written either 25 048€05 or 25 048,05 € (always with an extra space between the figure and the currency symbol).
In computing, a bit is called a bit yet a byte is called an octet[44] (from the Latin root octo, meaning “8”). SI prefixes are used.
24-hour clock time is used, with h being the separator between hours and minutes (for example 2:30 pm is 14h30).
The all-numeric form for dates is in the order day-month-year, using a slash as the separator (example: 31/12/1992 or 31/12/92).

Architecture of Normandy
Catherinettes
Demographics of France
Remarkable Gardens of France
List of French people
List of World Heritage Sites in France

References / sources:

Bernstein, Richard. Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French. Plume, 1991.
Carroll, Raymonde. Carol Volk, translator. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience. University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Darnton, Robert. The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. Vintage, 1984. ISBN 0-394-72927-7
Dauncey, Hugh, ed. French Popular Culture: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2003.
DeJean, Joan. The Essence of Style: How The French INvented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. New York: Free Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7432-6413-6
Forbes, Jill and Michael Kelly, eds. French Cultural Studies: An Introduction. Clarendon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-871501-3
Girod, André. ” French-American class: It’s a long way to France” Redleadbooks
Gopnik, Adam. Paris to the Moon. Random House, 2001.
Hall, Edward Twitchell and Mildred Reed Hall. Understanding Cultural Differences: Germans, French and Americans. Intercultural Press, 1990.
Howarth, David and Georgios Varouzakis. Contemporary France: An Introduction to French Politics and Society. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2003. ISBN 0-340-74187-2
Kelly, Michael. French Culture and Society: The Essentials. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2001. (A Reference Guide)
Kidd, William and Siân Reynolds, eds. Contemporary French Cultural Studies. Arnold Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-340-74050-7
Marmer, Nancy, “Out of Paris: Decentralizing French Art,” Art in America, September 1986, pp. 124–137, 155-157.
Nadeau, Jean-Benoît and Julie Barlow. Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not The French. Sourcebooks Trade, 2003. ISBN 1-4022-0045-5
Robb, Graham. The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, from the Revolution to the First World War. New York: Norton, 2007. ISBN 978-0-393-05973-1
(French) Wylie, Laurence and Jean-François Brière. Les Français. 3rd edition. Prentice Hall, 2001.
Zedlin, Theodore and Philippe Turner, eds. The French. Kodansha International, 1996.
Notes[edit]|]edit source]

Jary, D. and J. Jary. 1991. The HarperCollins Dictionary of Sociology, page 101.
Hoult, T. F, ed. 1969. Dictionary of Modern Sociology, p. 93.
Thompson, William; Joseph Hickey (2005). Society in Focus’. Boston, MA: Pearson. ISBN 0-205-41365-X.
see, for example, Jonathan Fenby: On the Brink; the Trouble with France Warner Books London, 1998
Aïcha Saïd Ben Mohamed (1876 – 1930) was born in Kabylie, Généalogie Magazine, N° 233, p. 30/36
Le Point, February 8, 2007
“One in three French ‘are racist'”. BBC News. 2006-03-22. Retrieved 2006-05-03.
Article 75-1: (a new article): “Les langues régionales appartiennent au patrimoine de la France” (“Regional languages belong to the patrimony of France”). See Loi constitutionnelle du 23 juillet 2008.
(Romanian) Franţa nu mai e o ţară catolică (France is no longer a Catholic country), Cotidianul, 2007-01-11; “France ‘no longer a Catholic country'”, Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2007
Religion Important for Americans, Italians, Angus Reid Global Monitor, December 30, 2006
Kidd and Reynolds, 104-5.
Kidd and Reynolds, for example, give a figure of 4 million Muslims, or 6.9%, based on sources dated 1993, 1994, 1999. (102). See Islam in France for more on recent estimates.
Kidd and Reynolds, 30-31.
Embassy of France in the US – The PACS – A civil solidarity pact
Gay News From 365Gay.com
Kelley, “Family”, 100.
Ibid.
http://www.insee.fr/en/ffc/chifcle_fiche.asp?ref_id=NATTEF02313&tab_id=31
Kelley, 246-7.
TIMSS 1995 Highlights of Results for the Middle School Years [1]. France has not participated in later TIMSS studies. [2]
fr:section syndicale d’entreprise December 27, 1968 law
fr:SMIG
Decree n°2006-1386 over 15th November, 2006 taken as application of article L3511-7 of the Public Health Code, banning smoking in public places.
“France to ban smoking in public”. BBC News. 2006-10-08. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/boekhout.france.html
Kelly, 101. DeJean, chapters 2-4.
Kelly, 101.
Dauncey, 195.
Le marché des aliments pour chiens et chats en Belgique. Mission Economique de Bruxelles, 2006. Read this document (in French) PDF
The best of French Music from Famous French Music
Alan Riding (February 28, 1995). “The Birthplace Celebrates Film’s Big 1-0-0”. The New York Times.
20 questions about studying in France |url=http://old.campusfrance.org/en/a-etudier/faq.htm
Theodore Zedlin, quoted in Kidd and Reynolds, 266
^ a b Kidd and Reynolds, 261.
Kidd and Reynolds, 266.
Kidd and Reynolds, 258 and 264.
Kidd and Reynolds, 265.
^ a b Donald Morrison, “The Death of French Culture”, Time, Wednesday Nov. 21, 2007. {http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1686532,00.html}
Kidd and Reynolds, 264.
Kidd and Reynolds, 232.
Kidd and Reynolds, 236
French schoolyear calendar {fr}[3]
International System of Units (SI) – Physics Laboratory
English translation of “Octet” on Reverso
Frenchculture.org
Frenchcultureguide.com – French culture news website
France in Brief / France From A to Z – Embassy of France in the US
National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE)
French Music Culture, the best of French Music from Famous French Music.
Morrison, Don. “The Death of French Culture,” TIME
Chardin’s paintings are just an example of the importance of the French culture in the history of art
French Painters who contributed to the Rococo and Neoclassical period are Boucher, Bouguereau and Jean-Léome Gérôme famous forgotten artists
The French Culture in Lyon

By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in art, History, Music Video, Video Blog

 

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Benedictine, a short history and the original recipe.

History:

temp[Benedictine or Benedictine Spread is a condiment made with cucumbers, onions and cream cheese. It is used to make cucumber sandwiches and was invented around the turn of the 20th century by Jennie Carter Benedict, a caterer and restaurateur in Louisville, Kentucky. Benedict opened her restaurant in 1893. It was there that she invented and originally served benedictine. Originally used for sandwiches, benedictine has in recent years been used as a dip for chips and filling for potatoes.

“Louisvillians quiz guests and younger family members on the origin of Benedictine. The famous cucumber spread was, of course, created by one of our city’s most famous residents, Jennie C. Benedict. Setting the highest of culinary standards, “Miss Jennie” was also a successful businesswoman, a writer who for a time served as editor of The Courier-Journal’s Household section, and an important community volunteer.

The University Press of Kentucky has republished Jennie Benedict’s The Blue Ribbon Cook Book, from the fourth edition, 1922.” Susan Reigler, former restaurant critic and travel editor of The C-J, has written the Introduction, and for the first time the recipe for Benedictine Spread is published. The wonder is that it was never included in the other five editions, or in Benedict’s autobiography. Maybe she considered her recipe as secret as Colonel Sanders did his herbs and spices for chicken.

Reigler writes lovingly of her own youth when young ladies wore white gloves and munched cream cheese-and-nut sandwiches, based on Benedict’s concoction, in the restaurant of the old Stewart’s Dry Goods department store. She recounts the influence of recipes on today’s restaurants and home cooks as well.

A close variation of Miss Jennie’s “Stuffed Eggplant” has been on the menu of Simpsonville’s Old Stone Inn for many years. Louisville’s Kathy Cary at Lilly’s serves her own version of Benedictine, as do Chef Matt Weber at the Uptown Café, and Ouita Michel at Holly Hill Inn in Midway. Holly Hill’s sous-chef, Lisa Laufer, supplies her recipe for this book.

Reigler gives an interesting picture of the woman who, in 1893, started a catering business from her home. Benedict soon began defining Louisville’s tastes as she catered parties and weddings of its most prominent citizens and fed the middle class in her tearooms.

Miss Jennie’s menus became musts for Derby Day celebrations. Through the decades her cookbook remains popular. Reigler says, “I had many, many calls from readers trying to locate a copy. …”

The Blue Ribbon Cook Book contains a Glossary that is a cooking lesson in itself. The large sections on “Entrees” and “Desserts” are complemented by interesting advice in “Sick Room Cookery,” and practical kitchen tricks.

Probably the most intriguing recipe of all is that which keeps Miss Jennie’s name on Louisville lips. Here is the version supplied by cookbook author and former Courier-Journal food editor Ronni Lundy. It is the one that Jennie C. Benedict would most likely have included in her book:

Benedictine spread

· 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
· 3 tablespoons cucumber juice
· 1 tablespoon onion juice
· 1 teaspoon salt
· a few grains of cayenne pepper
· 2 drops green food coloring

To get the juice, peel and grate a cucumber, then wrap in a clean dish towel and squeeze juice into a dish. Discard pulp. Do the same for the onion. Mix all ingredients with a fork until well blended. Using a blender will make the spread too runny.”

20130715-075038.jpg
(Above) The interior of Jennie Benedict’s restaurant at 554 S. Fourth Street in downtown Louisville. The establishment opened in 1900 and was sold in 1925 for $50,000. Benedict was trained in New York by Fanny Farmer.

Weekend Edition Saturday Transcript:

temp[Cream cheese, cucumber juice and a touch of onion. That may sound like an unlikely combination, but Benedictine is a Kentucky favorite. Gwynne Potts, a self-proclaimed aficionado, says it’s delicious.

“The best thing to eat Benedictine on is just white bread,” Potts says. “No special bread; it only takes away from the Benedictine.”

Potts, who grew up in Louisville, Ky., has been enjoying the creamy combo for six decades. And for the first 18 years of her life, she says, Benedictine was like ketchup. She assumed it was eaten everywhere until, as a college student, she took a spring break trip to Florida.

“We couldn’t imagine having lunch without Benedictine,” Potts says. “We went from store to store, saying, ‘Where’s your Benedictine?’ And they just looked at us. It was the first time I realized the whole world didn’t know about Benedictine.”

Years later, that’s still pretty much the case. But this creamy, cool cucumber spread has persisted in Kentucky ever since Jennie Benedict, a famous Louisville caterer, invented it around the turn of the 20th century.

Benedict opened a tearoom on downtown Louisville’s South Fourth Street in 1911. Back then, that was the city’s bustling commercial center, packed with stores, cafes, theaters and hotels. Today, it’s a few boutiques and several wig shops.

Susan Reigler, a former restaurant critic for Louisville’s newspaper, The Courier-Journal, wrote the introduction to the re-release of Benedict’s Blue Ribbon Cook Book in 2008. Reigler says Benedict’s role in the city’s culinary history was huge and that the roots of many of the city’s flavors can be traced back to her recipes.

Of course, some of Benedict’s concoctions have fallen out of favor — like calf brains and peptonized oysters for the sick. But Reigler says Benedictine has endured.

“I think it’s just very different. It’s very refreshing. It’s a light spread,” she says. “What could be more light and delicate than cucumber juice?”

temp[One source of contention among Louisville chefs is whether to include the two drops of green food coloring that Benedict used in her recipe. The dye lets people know that it’s not just a plain cream cheese spread, but the practice is no longer popular with chefs like Kathy Cary, who prefer more natural ingredients. Cary has owned Lilly’s, a restaurant that specializes in Kentucky cuisine, for the past 25 years. For her, the dish is truly a way to showcase both local cucumbers and local traditions.

“Mine is really about … celebrating the cucumbers,” Cary says. “Obviously, no dye, no food coloring. And it’s filled with texture, and sort of the crunch of the cucumbers.”

Some cooks serve Benedictine as a dip, others as tea sandwiches with the crusts cut off. But Cary usually puts hers into a hearty sandwich with homemade mayonnaise, bacon, bibb lettuce and sprouts.

However you serve it, Benedictine is best accompanied with another Kentucky signature: bourbon.

Sources: Wikipedia, NRP.org, The Courier Journal
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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The History of Fathers Day – Video Blog


Video Produced By: iLS TV News

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, but it is also celebrated widely on other days. Father’s Day was created to complement Mother’s Day, a celebration that honors mothers and motherhood.

Father’s Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting.

After the success obtained by Anna Jarvis with the promotion of Mother’s Day in the US, some wanted to create similar holidays for other family members, and Father’s Day was the choice most likely to succeed. There were other persons in the US who independently thought of “Father’s Day”, but the credit for the modern holiday is often given to Sonora Dodd, who was the driving force behind its establishment.

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.

It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Since 1938 she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. But the trade groups did not give up: they kept promoting it and even incorporated the jokes into their adverts, and they eventually succeeded. By the mid 1980s the Father’s Council wrote that “(…) [Father’s Day] has become a ‘Second Christmas’ for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents”. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.[14] Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 for men and boys who are not fathers.

Source: Wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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