Christmas in France
Christmas in France
Christmas in France and especially Christmas in Paris can be a truly memorable holiday destination adventure.
There are lots of interesting and slightly different traditions observed by the French.
The first and maybe most glaring is the almost complete lack of popularity of the Christmas tree. Instead nearly every home displays the nativity scene or creche.
These nativity scenes are most often filled with little clay figures made in the south of France. Sometimes they’ll even have live creche scenes with puppets and play actors though not normally on the premises of a private residence. These live performances are normally in public areas for many people to enjoy.
This is interesting because Americans often think of the French as very secular yet they have a very religious decoration symbol while we use the completely secular Christmas tree.
Similar to what is done in the Spanish Christmas, French children take off their shoes before going to bed and place them near the fireplace hoping that Pere Noel will fill them with gifts when they awaken in the morning.
Another interesting thing is a difference in gift giving in certain regions. In northern France gifts are exchanged on December 6 which is St. Nicholas Day. In all areas of France adults get the short end of the stick and only exchange gifts on New Year’s Day.
Regardless of where you are, it is a time for family and a great place to take yours for the holidays.
French families gather together for the huge feast called the Le Revellion. A Yule log shaped cake is one of the big traditions. In different regions of France the main dish at Le Revellion varies from duck, to pancakes, to Turkey and chestnuts, and even oysters in some regions.
You’re sure to find the type of holiday cuisine and family fun you’re looking for by going to the appropriate part of France.
It’s likely to be cold there (ranging between the 30’s and 50’s F) so pay attention and bring your winter clothes. You may even see a white Christmas (though rainfall is usually low during December).
One other interesting fact is a 1962 law which requires any letters written to Santa be responded to by postcard. I don’t know what address it has to be sent to for the oversight committee to get it.
Nor do I know what department or people are hired to read and respond to these things but it’s an interesting idea. I wonder at what age they find out the truth about Santa Claus?
Paris in particular has lots of decorations and bright lights and the world-famous Notre Dame Christmas mass.
There are special tour packages of the Eiffel Tower and Salvador Dali Museum and others as well as a Cinderella show at the Castle Chantily and horse shows training at the equestrian Academy of Versailles.
As you’d expect from the French there are lots of cool events and grandiose shows centered around the holidays.
Christmas in France is a fantastic spectacle and I’d highly recommend doing so at least once with your family. Post your comments about any other French holiday traditions or stories you have concerning this.