I didn’t grow up peeling back the cardboard flaps of advent calendars to reveal miniature chocolates or pieces of candy every day leading up to Christmas. In my family, we had a menorah and eight nights of candle-lighting in one room, and an oversized tree bedecked with colored twinkle lights, sparkled garlands and ornaments that my parents had carefully collected since before my older sister’s birth, in another. I grew up at the juncture of two traditions yet raised resolutely Jewish.
Since I’ve been in France, I’ve connected rather with my (vaguely) spiritual side and moved away from any kind of religious practice. And yet, every year at the first mention of bûches de Noël and marrons glacés and at the first sight of department store window decorations, I’m yanked back into a state of unutterable joy that could only be set off by the spirit of a holiday celebration. As an artifact of both culture and environment, it’s the measured festivity and rituals of the table during Noël in France that appeal to me the most. It’s never over the top but always a time of honoring the makers that surround us. We head straight to our favorite food artisans to prepare for a feast and, more and more, select handmade goods to gift our family and friends. I love the way every chocolatier and pastry chef has their own riff on the season, how my local cheese shops ready themselves for massive year-end orders, and how the streets glisten with Bonne Année! illuminated greetings, strung between two buildings.
I’ve adopted a handful of my own rituals for the end of each year — including *never* making dessert but rather buying one of the Bûches or holiday tartes from my favorite bakeries like Bontemps Pâtisserie, my source the last three years — but one I’m excited to adopt for only the second time is the advent calendar. As a big consumer of chocolate year round, it doesn’t hurt to know I have the next 25 days already doled out. Perhaps it will help me impose self-moderation? Even if not, I can’t wait to discover which La Maison du Chocolat ganache or praliné awaits for me on December 1st.
LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT & LE SLIP FRANÇAIS GIVEAWAY!
And I want one of YOU to be able to delight in the surprise as well. I partnered with La Maison du Chocolat to offer one advent calendar to one reader. But that’s not all! I’ve also added in a limited edition hat from Le Slip Français (which you will find in the annex to my book!), an entirely Made in France brand of undergarments, sweaters and accessories. This model was designed by Isabel Marant especially for this year’s France Téléthon, an initiative benefitting France’s Muscular Dystrophy Association. For every hat purchased (35 euros), ten euros will be donated to the organization. They’ve already raised 73% of their 50,000€ goal, I hope you’ll pick one up even if you don’t win one in the giveaway! See more about this campaign HERE.
To enter, leave a comment below sharing what you’re most hopeful for at the end of 2017. One winner will be selected at random on Friday December 1st. This competition is also taking place on Instagram should you wish to participate there — click here!
Good luck! And of course, Bonnes Fêtes!