Sunday, February 2, 2020

Significant days, dates and times

French Village Diaries significant days, dates and times Chandeleur brexit

Today is La Chandeleur, or Candlemass Day, significant for being the mid-way point between the shortest day and the spring equinox, as well as the Catholic feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary, forty days after Christmas. 

There are many traditions associated with Candlemass day. Here in France pancakes are eaten and it is believed that successfully tossing them while holding a coin in your writing hand, will bring prosperity for your family this year. Tossing pancakes, in either my left or right hand, has never been one of my talents, but as Bernadette at the village boulangerie had made the effort to cook a stack of real French crêpes this morning, I have placed my chances of prosperity for the year in her expert hands.

This year the date is also palindromic 02/02/2020 and it happens to be the 33rd day of a leap year, leaving 333 days remaining. For number nerds like me, these numeric patterns are quite significant, although I can’t say I can feel any positive vibes coming from them this year.

French Village Diaries significant days, dates and times Chandeleur brexit
Citizen of Europe

What is also significant is the seismic shift that occurred in our lives this weekend. No longer are we EU citizens living in another EU state from where we were born. We are now classed as third country nationals. We have lost our right to vote in France or stand for election to the local council, and as we have been out of the UK for over fifteen years, we now have no right to vote anywhere. I would feel like a citizen of nowhere if it weren’t for the love and support we have had from our French friends in the village.

President Macron has also publicly shown his support for the British living in France with his message assuring us we have a place here.

“À tous les Britanniques qui vivent en France depuis tant d'années : vous êtes en France chez vous, aujourd'hui et demain.”

You can read his full statement in English here and also the touching words of Alain Rousset, President of the Region Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine here.

French Village Diaries significant days, dates and times Chandeleur brexit
The Maire joins us for an apero of solidarity
The Maire in our village, who I have had the privilege to work alongside as a councillor for the last six years, spoke of his regret that I can no longer be included in the list for re-election this March, and many others in the village have told me they feel the same way.

“Jacqui, une nouvelle fois, tu avais toute ta place sur une liste constituée en vue de l’élection de mars prochain. Je regrette sincèrement que ton nom risqué de ne pays y figurer. Si j’en avais le pouvoir, je te ferais conseillère municipal d’honneur de Loubillé !”

We have entered a period of transition, from now until the 31st December, a mere 333 days, during which, with the exception of voting rights nothing much will change. I can only hope that clarity for our position after that will be made clear sooner rather than later. In much the same way that the UK government have focussed solely on the wishes of those who voted to leave the EU in the last three and half years, they are currently only concerned with brokering a trade deal with the EU in terms of goods. The current Withdrawal Agreement doesn’t cover the provision of services across borders, which is the crux of our business and our income, so for us the uncertainty of the full effects of Brexit is still as big an issue as it was at the referendum in 2016.

On Friday night we marked the official leaving of the UK from the EU in our own way, surrounded by friends and a community that is there for each other. We dined on fish and chips, then crooned our way through lyrics that included ‘The Winner Takes It All’, ‘Never Gonna Give EU Up’ and ‘Why, Why, Why, Delilah’, all washed down with copious amounts of French wine. As midnight approached, we played Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’, followed by a candlelit minute’s silence, before a rousing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’. It was quite an emotional moment for us all.

The dates this weekend might well be significant, but I for one have never felt so insignificant. Heartbroken doesn’t come close.


  1. Brilliantly written account of such a sad, sad day.

  2. Ah Jacqui, it all feels so wrong and I feel for you, and for all of us who have invested so much of ourselves in France. You are still very much a valued member of your local community and this wider world community. Insignificant - not to us.


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