If you have ever been to Paris, and other parts of France, you will likely not be surprised to learn that Christmas in France is simply spectacular. In fact, the decorations and festivities even out due those you might see in New York City, including the Rockefeller building Christmas lighting, and Macy’s department store’s famous decorations. Just like incredible art, architecture, amazing restaurants, and of course speaking the language of love, Christmas in France is no less amazing. On the food side of things during the holiday season, you’ll find what you might expect from delightful handcrafted candies to the Christmas dinner Goose. The lighting and decorations are a dazzling wonder to the eye. And of course, they have some of their own flavor of Christmas celebrations that are a wonderful experience. After reading more about them below, you may even want to plan your next Christmas in France.
Fun Christmas Traditions in France
There are some fun variations in Christmas traditions in France from those we have in the US. They are fun to hear about, and maybe even fun to adopt in your own family traditions. A Christmas tree isn’t as common to have in the home in French as it is in the US. In Europe, a Christmas tree is more of a German tradition. Where you do see Christmas tree in a home, come Christmas Eve, Père Noel (Santa Claus), will come and add decorations to your tree. Little toys, small candies and nuts will be found on the tree, come Christmas morning. Like hanging a stocking on the wall for Santa to stuff with toys and trinkets, French children will place their shoes near the fireplace or door in hopes that Santa will put gifts inside them. A fun tradition that is common to the southern part of France, a Christmas log will be burned in the fireplace starting Christmas Eve and continue until New Year's. For those who plowed land, and for those that farm still today, a piece of the log that was burned is used as a wedge on the family plow for good luck in the new year.
Dates of Different Christmas Celebrations in France
Part of what is fun learning about Christmas traditions in countries like France, their Christmas history and traditions go back for hundreds of years before the US was even established. And because countries like France are so old, you even have differences in Christmas traditions in different regions within France. For instance, some regions have festivities not only on Dec 25th, but celebrate the season throughout the entire month of December. fête de Saint Nicolas, for example, which shares a Saint Nick, going from house to house on giving bread and treats to the good and wise children. But instead of leaving a lump of coal for naught boys and girls, (like is our US tradition,) Santa is accompanied by the Bogeyman, who instead gives naughty and unwise children nothing but a stick. Another tradition, Fête des Lumières (the festival of lights) is celebrated in central eastern France. The festival goes from Dec 6th – 9th each year. For this festival, people place a candle just outside their windows, to express appreciation and gratitude to the Virgin Mary. The festival also includes a different light show each year at the Place des Terreaux, and the Basilica of Fourvière is also has many different lights of many different colors each year. It’s a spectacular sight that’s well worth seeing, and well worth including in your travel plans if you’re in France during this time of year. Click for Part Two...