How will you be celebrating Christmas if you spend the festive season there? Much like the UK, but with even more emphasis on family and fellowship
The French celebrate Christmas just as much as the British but in a far less commercial way: something we love! Being a Catholic country the Christmas story is still very much feted in France with many families decorating their homes with the traditional crèche nativity scene. The run up to Christmas starts around the beginning of December and the 6th December is a special day, remembering the festival of St. Nicolas, as it is in the rest of Europe.
The family is of paramount importance in France. French children believe in “Pere Noel” and delight in watching their parents hanging up a Father Christmas figure seeming to climb up a ladder towards the chimney! You will see these in many French villages. Children leave their shoes at the front door on Christmas Eve hoping to find them filled with presents by the time they awake on Christmas morning.
Christmas trees are in the main squares but more and more families decorate their own homes with real trees
Christmas markets are everywhere in villages and towns. A charming tradition is the sale of little wooden figures named santons (little saints). Christmas trees tend to be displayed in the main squares but more and more families decorate their own homes with real trees as we do in the UK. If you are making a quick trip over to France before the big day, you can find all the Christmas markets listed here for the whole of France, Belgium and Switzerland.
It is only the UK which holds its main celebration on Christmas Day. The rest of Europe heralds Christmas Eve as the main day on which to celebrate. Church going is more popular in France and many families will go to church on Christmas Eve then go home to the festive meal which will often consist of five or six courses spread throughout the evening and into the early hours, with yule log cake at the end. A traditional Christmas meal will usually be goose but different areas have different delicacies.
As night falls on Christmas Eve it is traditional to leave some food and wine on the table for the Virgin Mary: a lovely excuse also not to do the washing up we think!
Our village is simply magical at this time of the year with beautiful lights lining our main promenade and a huge star decorating our church
There is a joyous feeling to Christmas in France. It is important to invite anyone home alone to join your family and the atmosphere is of love and friendship. Our village is simply magical at this time of the year with beautiful lights lining our main promenade and a huge star decorating our church. It often reminds us of Christmases as we remember them during our childhood in the UK.