There aren’t really many New Year traditions in France except one: on the stroke of midnight, everyone gets on the phone and calls friends and family. (Before cell phones there was always a log jam in front of the phone as people jostled for position.) Now, as soon as everyone is done kissing every other person in the house (another French tradition – the smoochie on the cheekie) they grab their cell phones and start dialling.
The phone calling spree lasts for several days afterwards. This is why: the French do not send Christmas cards. They prefer to call.
It’s nice, but odd to be calling people at midnight. No one is ever sleeping (or admits to be sleeping!) Everyone expects the call. Nowadays, there are the instant messages too – and “Happy New Year!” was flying around the phone screens. My husband made a list of everyone he wanted to call and spent three days on the phone.
I sent my traditional Christmas cards out, including e-cards that I really think are terrific. Just think: No trees were killed to make an e-card. No jet plane fuel was burned sending it over the ocean. No cars and trucks were started in order to deliver it. E-cards are instant, disposable, and non-polluting. The spirit of Christmas and the New Year lives on in virtual pixels.
(and in disembodied voices over the phone…)