The French Holiday Season

Harrison W. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. He comes to SYA from Phillips Academy in Massachusetts.

As the year has turned to the time of winter celebration, I now have the more informed position to recount and compare American/French holiday traditions! Rooted in my familial norms, it was thus different to have my Thanksgiving outside of America. Accordingly, I have had the great joy to spread our unique brand of holiday food and cheer these last couple weeks. In November, I recreated part of a Thanksgiving meal. Though primarily astounded by pecans in a pie, my host family adored the pecan pie I made for them. To SYA France students’ good fortune, there’s a wonderful Canadian/American/British/Australian store with products to bake and cook with. I know other students picked up pumpkin at this store and they also have tons of maple syrup.

Though longing for the comforts of family and home has certainly presented difficulty at times, Thanksgiving offered reflection. Time to appreciate and connect with my host family. Appreciation for all they have done to accommodate me and my role in giving back to them.

As December has rolled about, I have loved to see Rennes’ holiday spirit emerge! Christmas has quite a stunning holiday set up with charming lights hanging between buildings on the main streets through town. There are wonderful Christmas markets in town, and I love my advent calendar with little French chocolates inside.

This past weekend, I began to feel the French holiday spirit, putting up the Christmas tree and arranging the nativity scene. This immensely complex set of religious figures was amazing to see and I have begun to learn the meaning in each figure. My host family had tons of family over, and I got to roll out and teach my younger “host cousins” the process of making sugar cookies. 

As we just reached 100 days in France yesterday, I am immensely grateful to my parents for supporting me here, my host family, my classmates, and teachers for all they’ve done to make this possible.

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