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NewsletterJanuary 2003

Christmas in Alsace

Alsace is long on Christmas tradition; the town of Sélestat calls itself the Christmas tree town. The first written record of the selling of a Christmas tree was recorded in the local Humanistic Library, in 1521. In Strasbourg, for the last 400years or so, a Christmas market is held throughout the old part of the city during the month of December. Lastly, the town of Gertwiller likes to call itself the "Capital of Gingerbread." Since the middle ages its bakers have been baking, you guessed it, Gingerbread! For more information and short videos see,
Personally I find the Christmas Market in Strasbourg unlike any I've seen in the United States. Yes, there are a lot of stands selling items that are not Alsacien. Yet, if you come to Strasbourg during the Christmas Season, visit the marketplace. You will find enough Alsacien culture to last a lifetime. Click here to see photos of the market.

I voted

Yes, believe it or not, I voted in the election of Prud'Hommes (Labor Judges). As someone that has the right to work in France I have the right to vote for a set of labor judges who represent employees in labor disputes. Employers also vote for a set of labor judges to represent them.
The turn out was very low nationwide, around 35%following the trend as seen in the Presidential and Assembly Elections.
To see what a Prud'Hommes ballot looks like click here.

Driving Safely

The French government on December 20, 2002 announced a new set of measures that it hopes to enact to make French roads and highways safer. They include a three-year probationary license for new drivers, a 35-minute driving test, as opposed to the current 20-minute test, paying fines first, then appealing, and reinforcing police in their policing of the roads and highways.
Most polls show that the French public is in favor of the government's new measures. Of course most polls also show most French drivers think of themselves as - safe drivers. Others are not driving safely.
One issue not addressed in the new set of measures was what to do about government motorcades driving too fast. Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy's, motorcade was timed at over 200 kph a few months ago.


January 1st not only brings in the new year it also marks the one-year anniversary of the euro. Yes, the euro has been around since January 1, 1999 but only in electronic form. January 1, 2002 paper money was introduced. People were able to touch and feel the new euros.
There have been some unforeseen developments with regards to the euro in France; the 50-euro bill has been used much more than anticipated. A French consumer magazine found an 8 % inflation rate in a price survey and churchgoers are now giving more. Before the euro, churchgoers gave 10-franc coins, about 1.5 euro, now most give 2-euro coins.

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