Advertising in France is worlds apart from what I’m used to back in the UK. Back home you can’t turn on the radio, watch the TV or go into any sort of populated area without being bombarded by reminders about the next upcoming holiday.
In France, things are different.
It helps that we don’t have a TV in our new apartment, but I can tell you that the adverts are nothing compared to what the BBC is ready to throw at us from all angles every Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Well today is Valentine’s Day, and if Valentine’s Day wasn’t seared into my brain as falling on the 14th of February I would have totally forgotten about it – and the best part is that it wouldn’t have even mattered! Here in France we’re not visually attacked with heart-themed window displays, and card shops don’t even exist!! The biggest and best thing that I’ve noticed from this lack of consumer-oriented everything is that the pressure is off. I can’t buy a card for less than €3, so I don’t buy them anymore. And it’s OK! Last Christmas I didn’t give a card to anybody in France or England…partly due to the cost, but mostly because (try as I might, and try I really did) Thalia could not be coaxed into drawing 20 cards’ worth of pretty designs. And guess what? The world didn’t end as I thought it might! Though I may well be removed from my Grandad’s Christmas card list next year. Which is the next worst thing.
Here’s how we’ve spent our Valentine’s Day:
- I gave François a quick kiss and then spent the morning at mum and toddler group. Where Thalia got crafty (pictured above) and I snapped up the opportunity to offer her artwork as a gift to François…
- François is currently somewhere buying me a last-minute gift (though I really insisted that he needn’t bother). And actually, by taking Thalia out for two hours he’s already given me the best gift ever.
- Tonight, we’re taking Thalia to a closing party at a friend’s restaurant with 20 other people.
Basically we’re not making any effort at all to celebrate the day, and as wonderful as it is to get all loved up and celebrate your relationship, I really don’t mind. And let’s face it, our relationship probably isn’t going to mind either.
I used to think so much about Valentine’s Day when I was younger…maybe it’s just part of getting older and having a toddler, or maybe it’s because of France’s approach to holidays. Either way, I’m happy to have one less day to panic buy for…or feel guilty about for forgetting to.