French Culture Facts about Traditions, Language and Food
Western influenced france has a long and varied cultural history with customs and traditions that are some regional and some apply to the entire culture.
France is today the melting pot of diverse cultures. French culture has had a marked influence on the Western world, especially in the arts and letters. Ever since the Middle Ages, France and its main city Paris have been key centers in Europe’s blooming culture. The customs of French culture are varied. Some are regional and some apply to the entire culture. French culture comprises dimensions of its unique tryst with social hierarchy and distinct geographical location. The influx of European influence and subsequent development of the arts has enabled France to have a profound effect on world culture. France has been the center of culture since the seventeenth century. It has been recognized for the resilience of its people and aesthetic sense in cinema, cuisine and of course, fashion. French styles regarding the arts, architecture, design, dress and etiquette developed and flourished and some persist even to this day. The French film industry has also had an increasing role in the past century, producing important cultural works. But the word culture not only encompasses the polished and refined show of fine arts and styles. It also includes the way of life of a country’s people, their way of working and spending their leisure time, customs and traditions.
Customs, Traditions and Etiquette
The French attach much value to their customs and traditions. Etiquette in France is quite elaborate and formal. It is customary to greet anyone with a warm handshake. The French extend this courtesy to even their colleagues. It is quite common a practice to shake hands while leaving the office. Both men and women hug each other as a mark of good acquaintance. The dining etiquette too needs to be properly followed to avoid any embarrassment in the public. The French, while dining, keep their arms on the table. One essential point, you should always greet a stranger with Monsieur (for male) and Madame (for the fairer sex). Follow these customs and traditions in France to stop raising eyebrows. Curious it may sound; the French literally behead champagne bottles at weddings. A specially made saber is used to behead the bottle. This tradition is said to have generated during Napoleonic times when champagne bottles were beheaded to celebrate victory. Holiday season, which kicks off with Christmas, sees many old customs and traditions in France being followed with a renewed vigor. Family members and friends join in the late Christmas Dinner after the holy Christmas Mass. Roasted turkey is the most common item on the menu. As the custom has it, Church bells do not ring on Thursday prior to the Good Friday. The bells ring again on Easter Sunday. Customs and traditions in France is inseparably linked with 14th of July, the day when Bastille Fort was overrun by the French proletariats. To commemorate the end of the much-hated French Monarchy, parades and dancing in the streets are organized.
French cultural Food and Cuisines
Food plays a major role in the country’s social life. Food and wine are central to life at all socioeconomic levels, and much socializing is done around lengthy dinners. Wine and cheese are sources of national pride and reflect regional differences. Meals are ritualized, and full of social and cultural meaning. There are also political aspects to the meaning of food. For instance, there has recently been much concern about the quality of “engineered” food and a rejection of foods that have been genetically altered. Another recent concern has been la vache folle (mad cow disease); the French have rejected the importation of English beef, which has been a major issue in the EU. Large family gatherings and dinner parties involve more elaborate food preparation and more courses than daily family meals. At such occasions, drink is more important. An apéritif is served with small snacks or appetizers before the meal. Different regions have particular apéritifs : pastis is associated with southern France, and Suze (gentian liqueur) with the Auvergne. Wines complement the courses. Champagne often is served to mark ceremonial occasions and is drunk after the meal.
Cultural Languages in France
French, the official language, is the first language of 88% of the population. Most of those who speak minority languages also speak French, as the minority languages are given no legal recognition. 3% of the population speak German dialects, predominantly in the eastern provinces of Alsace-Lorraine and Moselle. Flemish is spoken by around 90,000 people in the northeast, which is 0.2% of the French population. Around 1m people near the Italian border, roughly 1.7% of the population, speaks Italian. Basque is spoken by 0.1% and mainly along the French-Spanish border. Catalan dialects are spoken in the French Pyrenees by around 260,000 people or 0.4% of the French population.The Celtic language, Breton, is spoken by 1.2% and mainly in the north west of France. These three languages have no official status within France.