Christmas Around The World – France
Having just looked at how Finland celebrates Christmas, we travel 3,153 km southwest to look at how France celebrates Christmas.
France is the largest country in Western Europe and has a population of approximately 68 million people.
It is also the most visited tourism destination in the world, with over 89 million visitors per year.
It holds the joint record for having the briefest reigning monarch with King Louis XIX lasting an astonishing 20 minutes as King in July 1830.
Let’s look at how France celebrates Christmas.
25th December through to the Epiphany on the 06th January
Mainly Christian, with around 65% of the population following Christianity.
A nativity crib is a popular decoration in the home, and these cribs have clay figures in them ranging from the typical nativity figures to butchers, bakers, policemen and priests.
Christmas trees decorated with baubles, lametta (angel/fairy hair), tinsel, candles, light and a traditional star on top are also very popular.
The word ‘Tinsel‘ comes from the old French word ‘Estincele‘ or ‘Estinceler‘ which meant sparkle and was based off the latin word ‘Scintilla‘ which meant a spark.
One of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe is held in Strasbourg in France, with 1000s of visitors going there around Christmas time.
It is a tradition to burn a yule log made out of cherry wood in the home fireplace, and these logs would be sprinkled with red wine to make them smell nice as they burn, with some families still sticking to this tradition.
People may leave this Yule log among other candles to burn all night, with food and drink left out in case Mary and Baby Jesus visit while everyone is asleep.
Santa Claus is called Père Noël, which is just french for Father Christmas, and he does the same job as the typical Santa.
In eastern France, on the 6th December (Saint Nicholas Day), he is accompanied by a man dressed in black called Le Père Fouettard, french for Father Whipper or Old Man Whipper, who hands out lumps of coal to any naughty children that didn’t make Father Christmas’ nice list.
The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve or early on Christmas morning (after the midnight church service) and is called ‘Réveillon‘.
The main dishes usually include roast goose or roast turkey with chestnuts, oysters, lobster, foie gras, venison and cheeses.
The most popular dessert is a bûche de Noël which is a chocolate sponge cake log.
In some parts of France, families will have 13 different dessert dishes to eat, made from fruits, nuts and pastry.
On Epiphany, a flat almond cake, called Galette des Rois, is eaten, and it contains a toy crown inside and a paper crown on top.
We continue our Christmas around the world celebration tour with a trip to Georgia, to see how Christmas is celebrated there.