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French Christmas Traditions

Advent calendars – les calendriers de l’Avent

French children open Advent Calendars like in many other countries during the month of December leading up to Christmas.

 

Postcards from Père Noël

Letters from French kids to Father Christmas always receive a response from Santa. Since 1962, France has had a law that stipulates any letter to Santa must be responded to in the form of a postcard. The law ensures that each child receives a reply to his/her letter to Santa making thousands of happy children each year! The postmen are happy to get into the Christmas spirit and deliver Santa’s replies.

 

The nativity scene

In French this is known as the “crèche” and French families who have a nativity scene often really go to town with this and include all kinds of figures not just Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

French Nativity Scene - Crèche

Image courtesy of Jametlene Reskp via Unsplash

 

La Chandeleur

This is the 2nd February when nativity scenes are displayed until. This is 40 days after Christmas Day.

 

Le Réveillon de Noël

This is Christmas Eve dinner. At around midnight, French families eat a special meal to celebrate the very beginning of Christmas Day.

 

Père Fouettard

In certain regions of France in the past, the tradition was that Père Fouettard would accompany Père Noël to spank naughty children! This French christmas tradition is now somewhat outdated as it isn’t in line with current parenting practice!

 

Shoes by the Fire

In other countries, the tradition varies slightly with stockings and nibbles and drinks for Father Christmas, but French children leave their shoes by the fireplace in the hope that Father Christmas will fill them with presents.

 

Christmas Dinner

Dishes might include roast turkey with chestnuts or roast goose, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and cheeses. For dessert, a chocolate sponge cake log called a bûche de Noël is normally eaten. Another celebration, in some parts of France, is that 13 different desserts are eaten!

 

La fêtes des Rois & La Galette des Rois

On January 6th, this is called Kings’ Day, Three Kings’ Day and Epiphany and in France, there is a tradition which means that French families will buy a ‘Galette des Rois’ which is a special tart and a small porcelain object called a ‘fève’ is hidden inside and the person who gets this in their portion is proclaimed the king (or queen) for the day and wears a pretend crown and can choose his King or Queen.


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All courses available either in person or via Skype or Telephone.  Please contact us for more information

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