Christmas in France

In France, a Nativity crib is often used to help decorate the house. French cribs have clay figures in them, not wooden ones. During December, some towns and cities such as Marseilles have fairs that sell Nativity figures. As well as having the normal Nativity figures in them, French scenes also have figures such as a Butcher, a Baker, a Policeman and a Priest.

In French Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Joyeux Noël'. In Breton (spoken by some people in Brittany, Northern France) it's 'Nedeleg Laouen' and in Corsican it's 'Bon Natale'. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

Yule Logs made out of Cherry Wood are often burned is French homes. The log is carried into the home on Christmas Eve and is sprinkled with red wine to make the log smell nice when it is burning. There is a custom that the log and candles are left burning all night with some food and drinks left out in case Mary and the baby Jesus come past during the night.

In France, Father Christmas / Santa Claus / St. Nicholas is called Père Noël (Father Christmas). In eastern France he is accompanied by Le Pere Fouettard, a man dressed in black. He might be the same person as Zwarte Piet in Holland.

The main Christmas meal, called Réveillon, is eaten on Christmas Eve/early Christmas morning after people have returned from the midnight Church Service. 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! All the desserts are made from different types of Fruit, Nuts and Pastries.

Epiphany (see Spain for more information), called Fête des Rois in French, is also celebrated in France on January 6th. A flat Almond cake is eaten called 'Galette des Rois'. The cake has a toy crown inside and is decorated on top with a gold paper crown.

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There's more information about Christmas in France on the French Momments website