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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in France series at FrenchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind French holidays and observances. I’m Matt, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 18- Ascension Thursday. In French, it’s called Jeudi de l'Ascension.
Have you ever heard of Ascension Thursday? It’s a Catholic holiday celebrated in France forty days after Easter, or Pâques. It’s also a public holiday. You’ll learn more about it in this lesson.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What problems do French people have on the roads during the period around Ascension Thursday?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Easter is a Catholic holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Forty days after Easter, on a Thursday, Ascension Thursday is celebrated. It marks the rise, or Ascension, of Jesus Christ to Heaven after His resurrection. Also, the Christian holidays Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost are inextricably linked. This holiday is only celebrated by Catholics, but it’s still a public holiday in France. Non-Catholics usually use this holiday to gather with family at home.
Besides the fact that it’s a public holiday, Ascension Thursday has another advantage in the eyes of French people, which is that it’s only separated from the weekend by Friday. Many French people therefore make le pont, meaning “the bridge,” by taking a day off on Friday to get a four-day weekend. Many French companies give one extra day off to their employees.
Many French people take trips during this time and visit other parts of France or Europe. Popular destinations include the regions in the South of France such as the French Riviera or Côte d’Azur and warm countries such as Italy, or Italie in French, and Spain, or Espagne. Travel agents take advantage of these days off to set up different packages in order to meet the demand of French tourists.
In French schools, the school board, or conseil scolaire, will vote to decide whether to make it as a four-day weekend or not. Therefore some students may go to school on the Friday after Ascension Thursday, and some may not.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
Do you know what problems French people have on the roads of France during the period of Ascension Thursday?
The Ascension “bridge” is one of the busiest weekends in France so French people face traffic jams on the highway, or autoroute, because many people are travelling domestically or visiting other countries.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you celebrate Ascension in your country, too?
Please leave a comment telling us at FrenchPod101.com and we’ll see you next time!