French Christmas Traditions with Gisselle

Hello friends!

Welcome back to 31 Days of Christmas! How am I doing so far?

(Technically it’s the 7th when I’m writing this, so I don’t actually know if I missed a day or not. But I’m hoping I didn’t!)

Anyway, I’m REALLY excited about today’s post! This is also interactive, but I’ll share more about that at the end of today’s post.

I’ve always been fascinated by how Christmas is celebrated in other countries. Since I have a French foreign exchange student(Gisselle) this year, I decided that it would be fun to make a post with Christmas Traditions from France! I’ll let Giselle take over now, and I’ll give more information about how to participate in this at the end of the post.

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Bonjour les amis!

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Christmas is my favorite time of year! This is why I am excited to share with you all some of my favorite traditions that my family participates in. I have also enjoyed learning more about American traditions this year. But the traditions I will be sharing with you are from my homeland, France.

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Decor is not a huge part of most French households. That is not to say we do not decorate of course! It is just that we do not have thousands of twinkling lights to dazzle the fronts of our homes.

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We do have le Sapin de Noël (the Christmas tree) but unlike in America, we always get real trees. You cannot find stores filled with artificial trees in France. 

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One piece of Christmas decor that you can find in nearly every French household is a nativity.

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La crèche is very similar to the ones you may find in America, except for one thing. Until December 24th, there is no baby Jesus! I enjoy placing him in with my family.

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Also, we always use advent calendars! I hear that in the US they are also used, but I feel like they are more important to my French family.

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Food is essential to Christmas in France. I love shopping in le marchè with my Mère! You can get fresh foods there, and handcrafted gifts for family members. We always buy our food for le Rèveillon de Noël a few days before Christmas Eve. Just enough time for the shelves to be stocked, but not too long or the food would grow spoiled.

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Speaking of le Rèvellion de Noël, would you like to hear about the dishes we serve? Of course you do! Now, this will vary from family to family, but my family normally has foie gras and oysters as an appetizer, then roast turkey as the main course. We also have a cheese course…because you know, France. Also my family usually has dishes with apples. We use leftovers from our fall harvest. Normandy is famous for their apples. Of course, it would not be a French Christmas feast without Bûche de Noël! It is a classic Christmas cake eaten for luck. Oh! And there is also chocolate!

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Was I not right when I said that food is essential to the French Christmas season?

Another thing is that Rèveillon lasts for hours. That is common with French meals, but this one is especially long because it is the main feast of the year! I love having plenty of time to visit with my family and I even convinced Madame and Monsieur Stone to extend their Christmas meal a bit.

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Père Noël is here too! Most people refer to him as “Santa Claus,” but I much prefer Father Christmas. I know most American families meet Santa Claus(Madame Clarice took us all to the mall last week to meet him!). Well in Normandy, we saw him on the Santa Train! I have fond memories of getting presents from him as a child.

Have you ever gotten a reply to your letters to Santa? I have! In France, Père Noël sends out postcards as a reply to children’s letters.

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This year, Madame Clarice bought me a stocking! I did not have one in France, because we simply placed our shoes next to the fireplace. In the morning, we find them filled with many small candies.

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The Christmas festivities begin on Christmas Eve. First up, our traditional meal, which I mentioned earlier. Then, my family opens up gifts from each other. After that, we may take a nap before Midnight Mass, which is actually at midnight. *yawns*

It is not something that every French family does, but my family does. It is a lovely celebration of the birth of the Christ child.

Of course, then we go back home to sleep. In the morning, we find surprises from Père Noël!

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Christmas carols are not as common in France. Mostly, we just listen to English songs. However, there are two classic Christmas songs in French that I just had to share with you all! First up is Petit Papa Noël. This song of course is about the one and only Father Christmas! Then, Vive le Vent, which tune may sound familiar! It is to the same melody of the American carol Jingle Bells, but with different lyrics.

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Finally, the last thing to mention is that Christmas does not end on Christmas day! We extend our celebrations until January 6th, la Fêtes des Rois!(Three Kings Day) We do not get to take a day off of work or school, but we still eat galette des rois, a flaky cake. Inside the cake sits a tiny baby figurine. Whoever finds the baby is crowned king or queen for the day. I remember finding it one year…that was incredibly special!

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Joyeux Noël mon amis!

Did you like learning more about Christmas around the world? Well the fun doesn’t stop here!

This is a blogosphere-wide collab. I came up with the idea, but the more people participating the better! There should be posts already published in this collab by the time you read this, but I’ll link to those in the comments.

If you’d like to participate, you can check out this document! Take a date and country. Whenever you’d like to post this is fine, even if another blogger has already taken that day. We’ve got countries like India, America, France, Ireland, and more! If the country you live in is already taken, you can always research another country. I’m really excited to see everyone’s posts for this!

10 thoughts on “French Christmas Traditions with Gisselle

  1. This was sooo cool Gisselle and Diamond! I can’t imagine not seeing fake trees everywhere in December 😂🎄 but real trees are amazing!
    Aw I love the tradition of not putting Jesus in the nativity until Christmas Eve. It makes sense but it’s not commonly done in the US lol!

    Liked by 1 person

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