Let the fêtes begin

It’s that time of year again! Let the fêtes begin!

Every year the holiday season seems to roll around a little faster! Do you agree?

It always takes that first snowfall in December for me to feel fully committed to Christmas. This year it appears that France is enjoying the fluffy white stuff before we have any in Toronto. Videos of snow falling in Paris, Provence and other areas, flooded the internet these past few days.

Speaking with a friend in Nice today,  I was told the tops of the Alpes-Maritimes nearby are becoming covered in white again. I love the dramatic effect created by the combination of the snow-capped mountains, that are the backdrop to the area, and the sparkling azure Mediterranean. The shot below is one I took a few years ago, driving along the Bord de Mer on the way to Nice.

A number of ski areas are already open just an hour from Nice! If you want to keep in touch with the ski conditions on those slopes, click right here.


Calendales (from the provençal word for Christmas), begins today in France, December 4, Saint Barbara’s Day or la fête de la Sainte-Barbe. This marks the beginning of a lengthy period of celebration that blends Christian and pagan traditions.

In most homes and shop windows, on the counter at la Poste, on the bar in all the cafés and even in the windows of the patisseries, saucers of sprouting lentils and wheat seeds will be on display.

Read this excerpt to see what it is all about!

Excerpt from Promises To Keep: “Joy had explained on the phone. “It’s a tradition that goes back to Roman times. The sprouts are carefully nurtured, and if they grow straight and green, there will be a bountiful harvest in the coming year. If they go yellow or droop over, then that’s bad news. Some of the wheat is used to decorate tables and crèches on Christmas Eve, but most bunches are wrapped with a red ribbon and cared for right through to la Chandeleur, la Fête de la Lumière, on February 2.”

It was a surprise to discover how this ancient tradition still is so lovingly observed in shops and homes.

Christmas markets in France are well under way, many with ferris wheels and skating rinks as well as the ubiquitous, decorative carousels. Enticing aromas of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts fill the air.

This photo is from Place Massena in Nice and was sent to me by my friend, Teresa, a couple of years ago.


When do you begin your holiday celebrating? Is there a special Christmas market in your town? If you have a Christmas tree, is it already decorated? The Christmas market in the Distillery District,  in Toronto is up and running.  It’s always a treat! 


Let’s start celebrating December with more good news! Enter this new Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of five signed editions of DRAWING LESSONS. This giveaway is live until December 14th ~ feel free to share it with your friends.

Click here http://bit.ly/2AvvmZI ~ Bonne chance/Good luck!

About Patricia Sands

Family, writing and travel are my passions ... okay, and chocolate ... and I'm seldom without a camera. I write women's fiction and keep in touch with readers by a monthly newsletter that also has giveaways and contests. Come and join us by signing up on the right. See you there!


  1. This is one of my Christmas memories that I like very much because it chimes in with how I feel about getting started too early. A few years ago I was at Mirepoix market in the Ariege on December 10th. I was poking around for stocking fillers on someone’s stall, and the bloke in charge asked if he could help. I explained. ‘Christmas?’ he exclaimed. ‘You’re a bit early, aren’t you?’

    • Patricia Sands says:

      LOL! Different perspectives. I like the tradition behind la fête de la Sainte-Barbe, but would be happy to wait a week or two for all the decorations. 🙂

  2. I celebrate the holidays on the holiday day, not earlier than that; this year, though, Belgrade got Christmas decorations as early as the end of September, to try and attract tourists. There will be a Christmas market of sorts starting at some point in December, with mulled wine and chimney cake and colorful candy and all sorts of stuff to buy; there will also be a New Year Fair, with numerous fun rides and even more stuff to buy. There will be skating rinks, too, and the Christmas Book Fair.

    As for the the aroma of roasted chestnuts, it has been filling the air of the various parts of Belgrade for a month or two now. Roasted chestnuts are something that people love as soon as their season starts (that is, as soon as it gets cold).

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Thank you for sharing some details about the holidays in Belgrade. Decorations at the end of September is just waaaaay too early! But roasted chestnuts definitely go with chilly weather ~ d’accord! 🙂

  3. Tree is up. Front porch is festive. There will be no more decorating this year at The Baer House. It’s just too much for me this year, especially knowing I’ll have to take everything down and pack it back up in January. I’m not up for that task. Chemo is kicking my butt.

    And, if we get snow in Mississippi it’ll be a true Christmas miracle. One can hope at least.

    I love that France celebrates for a long period of time. That seems more appropriate to me, but what do I know.

    Have a great week, Patricia. Here’s to snow soon in Canada!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Enjoy the season, Patricia! Wherever we are at this time of year, it is always special. I miss the Xmas markets from France, for sure but adore the childish American spirit with decorations and also invitations starting right after our Thanskgiving. December is festive here, even where it’s colder and rainier and the political mood is not the best 🙂
    I usually decorate my house right after Thanksgiving, but this year I started during that weekend. I have a tree inside and lots of small votives in the sunroom and decorations on the lawn and under the wrapped around porch. Lights make it so nice now that the sun sets earlier.

    • Evelyne, it sounds like you are joyfully immersed in the American way of celebrating Christmas. I’m sending my warmest wishes for a joyful Christmas and wish all the best for you and yours in 2018.
      Joyeuses fêtes!

  5. Thanks Patricia Sands for sharing us. Keep writing Merry Christmas 🙂 Stay blessed

I love hearing from you ~ thanks for stopping by


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.