Friday, February 25, 2011

Le Père Cent

Today was my last day of work before the holidays. As I headed home from class, I saw students having flour fights, so I tried to avoid them.

No, it's not snow. The streets are covered with flour.

Later this afternoon on my way back to the lycée four students asked me for change. I don't give out change as a rule of thumb, so my automatic reaction was to say "no." Next thing I knew, I was floured!

I got to the lycée and the teachers explained to me that today is le Père Cent, a tradition among stéphanois lycéens. Traditionally 100 days before their final high school exams, but now celebrated the last day of school before the February holidays, students ask for change. If you say no, they throw flour at you.

Having planned make the most of the afternoon to explore a park I'd not yet been to, I ran into a few groups of students. I explained to them that I am Canadian and that in exchange for money, I wanted to take their photos. They were happy to pose for me, and I gave both groups a euro each.


KEHutchinson said...

Do you know the film "Meet Me In St. Louis?" There's a scene that takes place at Halloween, where the children in the neighborhood go around "killing" the grownups who won't give out candy by pelting them with flour. I'd never heard of that before, but I'm wondering if it's related!

Vanessa said...

I haven't seen that movie, but I wonder..

Although I couldn't believe at first that students would throw flour at a stranger, when I got to school the other teachers were mostly laughing it off. Flour is pretty harmless. It's the eggs and firecrackers some students brought along that had me a bit worried.

Anna Felicity said...

Ha that's defiantly an interesting cultural difference! It's would have been nice to get a warning from your fellow teachers, but I guess that's just not how they roll :)
It's a good thing you're not allergic to wheat...