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5 Charming French Christmas traditions


Ajdin Kamber | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 12/06/22

Why not be inspired to adopt some of these popular ways to celebrate Christmas that are common in France?

With Christmas is drawing nearer, it can be inspiring to see how other countries prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

In France, Christmas is an important occasion where family members go to great lengths to make sure this most special of birthdays is celebrated in style. If you take a look below, you’ll see some of the ways our Gallic brothers and sisters enjoy the Christmas season.

A very impressive crèche

The French place great importance on their Nativity scenes. They are often far more elaborate than the average crèche, with figurines representing local villagers, the innkeeper, and much more. Sometimes these figurines will be passed down in the family to bring even more meaning to the representation of Christ’s birth.

And if you want to set up your Nativity scene à la Française, take a look at how they they put their figurines in place just in time.

Advent calendars are an absolute must

The countdown to Christmas adds to all the festive excitement. If you get to December 1 without an Advent calendar at hand then there’ll be great disappointment — and this applies to adults, too! Although chocolate calendars are popular, there are lots of unique calendars that are also proving successful.

The Marchés de Noel

The French are known for their love of food, and this is particularly so at Christmas. Luckily, in lots of towns and cities, Christmas markets will pop up selling local foods and drinks, and artisanal products.

To make it all the more charming, the market stalls are wooden and have a real homespun feel to them. Mixed with chilly weather and some festive music, they certainly create a Christmas mood.

The importance of Christmas Eve

In France, Christmas is really celebrated on Christmas Eve, or le Réveillon. Families come together to eat an elaborate meal including delicacies such as foie gras, oysters, and escargots (yep, snails!) — and that’s just to get started. These dishes are often followed by some sort of poultry, with capon as a popular choice.

While wines will be carefully selected to accompany the meal, it’s also important to leave room for a delicious dessert, such a bûche de Noël, or chocolate log.

The joy of Midnight Mass

Most practicing Catholics in France will attend Mass at midnight, accompanied by family members both young and old. After the service, they head home, where many children will see that Father Christmas has already paid a visit.

Catholic LifestyleChristmasFrance
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