French Christmas Traditions
French Christmas has rich history and tradition that dates back to 496 when Clovis and his 3,000 warriors were christened. Many years have passed by, and now enjoying the Eve of Christmas in France is a memorable experience. The entire country is adorned at this time, and exploring the alluring Christmas markets, and sing at midnight mass in a spectacular gothic cathedral are considered as part of French Christmas traditions.
French Christmas Celebration
Noël is the most familiar name in French Christmas. Les bonnes nouvelles is a famous French phrase. The meaning of this phrase is "the good news." In France, Santa clause is known as Père Noël which refers to “Father Christmas” who carries a sack of gifts. As per Christmas traditions in France, the children leave their shoes by the fireplace on the Christmas Eve. And when they get up in the Christmas morning, they find their shoes are filled up with sweets, fruits, nuts and small toys. Belief is that all these gifts are presented by the Pere Noel.
French Christmas Symbols
Although Christmas trees are not that much of popular in France, as the counties like Germany, the United States, and Great Britain, but it is also part of French Christmas decoration. The nativity scene or Christmas Crèche is the most popular French Christmas symbol. Saint Francis of Assisi had introduced it in the year 1224. It has become hugely popular after the Renaissance of the 16th Century.
French Christmas Decoration
Christmas is the time for celebration, and like other countries across the globe, in France also this festival is celebrated with great vigor. Streets, business offices, and houses are beautifully decorated. French Christmas decorations are incomplete without nativity scene or crèche. In France it is very common to see the use of this in home decoration at the eve of Christmas. Apart from shepherds, Magi and Holy Family, French people also add figures of local celebrities to these Nativity scenes. The annual Christmas fairs which is held at Marseille and Aix is well known for selling these figures.
Santons are also used as a part of Christmas decorations in France. Santons mean little saints and it refers to biblical figures. Aubagne, a small village positioned in the Provencal region of France, is the world capital of santons. It also symbolizes characters such as, a baker, policemen, a local priest, or mayor. Santons gained popularity during the French Revolution.
French Christmas Gifts
In France, Christmas is an event for merrymaking as well as a religious celebration, for which both young and old wait throughout the whole year. Presenting gift to the beloved one is key part of French Christmas Traditions. All the shops and departmental stores come up with fabulous displays of animated figures, and manifold of stunning gifts. Although, the celebration of Christmas season starts on December 6th with Saint Nicholas’ Day, but the day of presenting Christmas gift is not same in all part of France. In the eastern part of the country such as in Alsace-Lorraine, children are presented Christmas gifts on Saint Nicholas’ Day by their parents. On the contrary, Père Noël presents gifts on Christmas Eve in the other part of the country. But, the adults exchange their French Christmas gifts on the New Years Day.
French Christmas Dinner
After the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, French people take part in the traditional Christmas dinner which is known as le reveillon. Array of mouthwatering delicious dishes are served, although the main dishes of French traditional dinner differ from one region to another. The traditional log shaped cake, Buche de Noel is the only common thing which is served as French Christmas cuisine in all part of the country. The main dish is goose in Alsace and in Burgundy, turkey and chestnuts are served as main dish. People in Paris and Il-de-France region mostly love oysters, while buckwheat pancakes with sour cream is highly popular.
French Christmas Carols and Songs
French Christmas Carols and songs are sung at the Eve of Christmas and it is an essential part of French Christmas traditions. There are numerous Christmas carols and songs that are sung all through the country France. Some of the most popular French Christmas carols are Les Anges dans nos campagnes, D'où viens-tu, bergère, Il est né le divin enfantm, Aujourd'hui le Roi des Cieux, Ah ! Quel grand mystère, and Dans le silence de la nuit, etc.