Day 25 – Brigitte Fontaine – La bûche de Noël

Language – French

Translation – Yule log

Cooking ‘instructions’ on how to make a chocolate Yule log with French musical superstar Brigitte Fontaine.  That lady has style!

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Day 24 – Jacques Dutronc – La fille du Père Noël

Language – French
Translation – The daughter of Father Christmas

JD: “So, you want me to sit on this slide and sing the song, yeah?”
Director: “Yeah, just sit there and sing. We might throw a teddy down the slide too…”
JD: ” Just one bear, right? I’ll be singing. That might distract me.”
Director: “One or two bears…maybe three…”
JD: “OK. Three bears, tops. OK?”

Poor Jacques Dutronc. There he was, singing his excellent Christmas song, and those cruel film-makers took advantage of him. A bit like France Gall and the ice-skating. But he comes through it admirably, because he is a legend 🙂

This song appears to be a classic case of a couple who are unsuitable for each other due to family circumstances. It can never work – how sad! From the lyrics it appears that a naked girl ends up in JD’s house, by mistake. She has come down the chimney and ended up (literally) stood in his shoes. He has a bit of a crush on her. *She* is the daughter of Father Christmas, but is not supposed to be there. Also, this:

“All night I had whipped
Wicked people
Throughout the night she had given
Gifts to all children”

The whipping confused me – some sort of S & M reference? I researched a bit further. The lyrics say *he* is the son of Père Fouettard (Father Whipper), who, according to Wikipedia, is “a character who accompanies St. Nicholas in his rounds during St. Nicholas’ Day (6 December) dispensing lumps of coal and/or floggings to the naughty children while St. Nick gives gifts to the well behaved….This “Whipping Father” was said to bring a whip with him to spank all of the naughty kids who misbehaved….Le Père Fouettard is identical to the Dutch character Zwarte Piet (Black Peter).”. Phew! Glad we got that cleared up!

Scary stuff. I hope you have all been good this year!

In the meantime, I hope you have all enjoyed my foreign-language Christmas adventure this year too. There will be a tiny film clip tomorrow as an extra little pressie…joyeux Noël, tout le monde!

Day 23 – Kurt Olsson’s julkalender – Mössens julafton

Language – Swedish
Translation – The mice’s Christmas Eve

Apologies for being a bit later today, I am not at work and had a lie-in!

In my search to find something musically equivalent to British Christmas standard fare, I discovered this, which seems to be from a Swedish TV show from 1990. It has a saxophone and made me think of Roy Wood. I put the lyrics (see here: http://dur-moll.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/mossens-julafton.html) in Google Translate, and to be fair the visuals are quite faithful to the actual words of the song. Grandma Mouse does indeed sit rocking in an old potato…

Lasse Brandeby was a Swedish actor / comedian and creator of Kurt Olsson. He made many TV shows during the 80s and 90s, and you can see him briefly at the beginning and end of this video.

For #Abba fans, there is a version of this song by #AgnethaFaltskog! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk5piLdQ2vQ)

​Day 20 – Björk – Jólakötturinn

Language – Icelandic
Translation – The Christmas Cat

There are a few videos of this song on YouTube, but I chose this one as it has the lyrics in Icelandic (so you can all sing along), along with the English translation (in case your knowledge of Icelandic is not up to scratch). It’s a great story, with a message to  be grateful for what you have, and also to look after those less fortunate than yourself.  The true spirit of Christmas, in other words.  I could listen to Björk singing all day, and especially in her native language.  

Information about Yule in Iceland here: https://web.archive.org/web/20061214233112/http://www.simnet.is/gardarj/yule4.htm

Day 19 – Marco Hietala – Varpunen jouluaamuna

Language – Finnish

Translation – Sparrow on Christmas Morning

A metal(ish) version of a rather lovely but very sad traditional Finnish Christmas song. The words are a poem by Zachris Topelius from 1859. His son, Rafael, died at the age of one the Spring before he wrote the poem.

 “On small cottage porch was a girl, darling
Come here little sparrow, take seed from me
Christmas is homeless and little sparrow so unfortuned
Come here little sparrow, take seed from me
 
My child, I am not a bird from this earth
I am your little brother, I came from heaven
The small seed you gave to the poor
It was given to your little brother in the angels land (heaven)
The small seed you gave to the poor,
It was given to your little brother in the angels land”
 
As an aside, I found some interesting text re: birds and spirits: “In a wide range of cultures, birds are symbolically connected with death in a number of ways. They are often considered harbingers or omens of imminent death. Some birds are thought to steal souls from people who are dying or to act as psychopomps, carrying the souls of the dead to the “next world.” As the story above illustrates, there is also the belief that birds might somehow embody spirits of the dead. Ingersoll (1923) noted that the belief in birds as “visible spirits of the dead” is “almost universal” (link to the whole text this extract comes from here: http://www.academia.edu/5112298/On_The_Relationship_between_Birds_and_Spirits_of_the_Dead).
Also, ‘psychopomp’ is my word of the day 🙂

Day 18 – Y Bandana – Mins Peis a Chaws

Language – Welsh
Translation – Mince Pies and Cheese
 
Today, we have a fun, upbeat, youthfully enthusiastic look at Christmas from Y Bandana. They have lots of snow to play with in the video. I’m jealous! Loving that keyboard sound too (reminiscent of The Undertones). I can’t find the lyrics, so if anyone knows what they are please let me know. I’m catching stuff about family, food and drink, and Sean Connery (!?), so I imagine it’s about a traditional family Christmas, but that’s a guess, and I would love to know what they are *actually* singing! I read that the band had decided to call it a day this year, but they seem to have other projects on the go, which I shall follow with interest 🙂

Day 17 – Momoiro Clover Z – Santa San

Language – Japanese

This is J- Pop, as oppose to K-Pop, but another example of super-well-trained, frenetic youngsters with excellent colour-coded outfits. Watching this video may be the most intense (nearly) five minutes of your whole Christmas. I say ‘Do it!’. You’ll thank me 🙂 
You can learn much more about the machinations of the band here: 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momoiro_Clover_Z

Day 16 – Max Aubin – from ‘Konkou Chante Nwel 1998’

Language – Haitian Creole

A lovely song for today, from a Christmas-time singing competition in Haiti called ‘Konkou Chante Nwel’. This is Max Aubin, and he came second that year (1998). I can’t find out what this song is actually called – any help gratefully received!

“Children are celebrating
That way they are accustomed
Whether poor or rich
They all have the same desire
To play, to sing nice music
for Christmas.”

Lyrics are underneath the video on YouTube 🙂