Christmas Traditions


How to Celebrate in France

I'm excited to spend Christmas in France. The last time that I got to do this was in 2001 or something like that. It's been a while! And while some Christmas traditions in France are a lot like Christmas traditions in America, there are a few differences. And while I am going to be missing some homemade raviolis and the amazing deserts someone (aka Cookie) always makes, I'm looking forward to spending it with my French family and seeing what kinds of delicious foods they traditionally make. So here's what the holiday celebration looks like in France.

In France, many kids believe in Santa, known as the Père Noël. But Father Christmas looks a little different here. I personally think he looks a little creepy sometimes. But this Santa is definitely skinnier, and I guess that I'm partial to the fat Santa. In the US our Santa looks like he had wayyyy too many cookies whereas in France he just has a tiny beer belly going on.  And instead of hanging stockings, French kids put their shoes or slippers by the fireplace. But they still leave cookies for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer. 

Light Show on l'Hotel de Ville, Lyon
Another tradition in France, but that is quickly becoming a lot less popular, is midnight mass. France is still a very Catholic nation, no matter how many bans there are of public religious displays. So many people still keep the tradition of midnight mass. Many French people also put a lot of emphasis on having a manger in their house. So many kids have asked me if I have my own manger and Christmas tree in my house. They think my Christmas is just not the same without it. Whereas in the US we only really see mangers in churches, maybe some cities will put one up. But that's about it.

But if you think Christmas is only of the 24th and 25th, you're wrong. Many begin their Christmas celebrations on the 6th of December, St. Nicholas day. In Lyon they have a light festival on the 8th for the Virgin Mary. And Christmas celebrations usually don't end until epiphany, which is January 6th. And this day a galette is usually served for the feast of kings. The one that gets the treasure inside the cake is the king for the day, a fun tradition for the kids. 

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