Cultivate an Appreciation of French Cultures Through Their Holidays

In our celebration of Spanish cultures last month, we encouraged Spanish teachers to share holidays that capture the rich traditions found in the Spanish-speaking world. Now we invite French teachers to explore holidays and related activities with students as part of your spring world languages curriculum.

Remember to share your teaching experiences and thoughts about these activities with the HMH educational community on our Facebook page.

 

April 14-22—Kite Festival - France

Berck-sur-Mer Kite Festival

A 25-year tradition that takes place every year, this nine-day-long kite lovers' extravaganza highlights the colorful imaginations of kite-makers from around the world. Area natives, beach-goers and tourists are treated to a myriad of elaborate kites that range in size from small and medium to gigantic. The kites come to life as dragons, sea-dwelling fish-- even cartoon characters soar through the sky. These rich creations delight the minds and spirits of the estimated 500K people who attend annually.

Activity:

Instruct students to visit the official festival website and ask them related questions—such as where the contest takes place and how to find it on a map. Challenge them to think of a concept for a kite they would create for the festival and what they would name it. Ask them to also watch several videos about the festival and describe what they learned in a few paragraphs, in French.

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May 8—Victory Day - France

La fête de la victoire (France)

This French holiday centers on celebrating the end of World War II and commemorates the day Charles de Gaulle announced its ending in France on May 8, 1945. Locally known as Victoire 1945’ or ‘La Fête de la Victoire’, this festive day is heralded across Europe (Victory in Europe or VE Day) and around the world. To mark the day, educational institutions, post offices, financial and shopping centers are closed. Celebrants focus on highlighting the country’s freedom by attending church services, and by flying the national flag of France.

Activity:

To guide student learning about this holiday, select and view as a class a French film about the Nazi occupation of France. Then, draft questions about the film and have students answer them in writing on your chalk or whiteboard.

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June 24—Quebec National Holiday

Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste or La fête nationale (Québec)

This is a day of celebration that goes by many names and its origins date back well over 2,000 years. Originally a religious holiday meant to honor the life and legacy of St. John the Baptist, a Jewish preacher who baptized his cousin Jesus in the River Jordan, it is now widely observed in political and religious circles. Festivities make note of Quebec’s unique history, heritage, identity and the fleur-de-lys, which was adopted by Quebec on January 21, 1948 as the official flag. It is featured prominently during the day’s festivities. Revelers also pay tribute to the holiday by attending parades, free outdoor concerts and bonfires.

Activity:

Engage your class around this day of celebration with a guided tour of the festival’s website and use the resources on the Bien dit! dashboard to support their learning.

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For more holidays to explore with your students, visit Le Prof, our new biannual newsletter for French language educators, from which you can download the spring holiday calendar.

Image Sources: 

Kites                         ©David Jones/Alamy Stock Photo

Paris, May 8              ©dpa picture alliance /Alamy Stock Photo

Quebec Balloons        ©Hemis/Alamy Stock Photo