Something of an obscene paradox occurred here in France at the end of last week.
A good ol' US export in the shape of "Black Friday" crossed the Pond and arrived in France.
|Black Friday shopping arrives in France (screenshot France 3 news)|
Nope, there's nothing wrong with that, even if the concept seems a little out of place in a country in which sales (or soldes) - the time when retailers slash prices and shoppers can pick up a bargain or two - are carefully regulated, although there's an extension as of 2015 in the length of time of the traditional winter and summer sales from five to six weeks.
Even if the French don't celebrate Thanksgiving (yet - but who knows) the arrival of Black Friday shopping to these shores is perhaps another reminder of the influence the US has on popular culture and the importance given to consumerism especially in the run-up to Christmas - whatever the cost.
That's neither a bad thing nor a good one - depending on your perspective. And it wasn't the obscene paradox in and of itself.
Because that lay elsewhere - and it hardly raised a Gallic eyebrow and certainly little comment within the media.
Just as chains such as Darty, Auchan, Fnac and Casino decided to join in the "festive fun" of encouraging the public to spend whatever money they might or might not have on Christmas shopping, a more established event was underway.
Outside supermarkets up and down the country, volunteers from the charity Restos du Cœur were busy collecting non-perishable goods from shoppers as part of the 30th annual winter campaign (that had begun on Monday of the same week) to provide food packages and hot meals to the ever-increasing number of French needy in need of such help.
That was last week. And France (just as life - how philosophical) is full of contradictions.
This coming weekend the French will be in for yet another paradox which seems to have become common practice.
Some television celebrities such as game show host Nagui back in 2010 have questioned why it is allowed to happen, but those calls fell on deaf TV executive ears and even deafer event organisers, it appears.
Public television - and in particular France 2 - will be in full charitable mode raising money, just as it has done every year since 1987, for the L'Association française contre les myopathies, (the muscular dystrophy charity) with the Téléthon.
Meanwhile TF1 will broadcast - just as it has for several years - the election of Miss France as 33 candidates compete in Orléans to succeed last year's winner Flora Coquerel.
Black Friday shopping and Restos du Cœur are as much a match made in heaven as Miss France and the Téléthon.