Christmas is a famous holiday all around the world, a family day where we give each other presents and eat a good meal together. With that said, each country has its own traditions around the 25th of December. France is no exception.
How do French people celebrate Christmas?
To start, and this is not going to be a big surprise, in France, Christmas is centered around food. So, the most important component of the holiday is the Christmas dinner. But the first difference between France and other countries, is that meal is not happening on the 25 but on the 24 on Christmas Eve. The main elements of this meal are:
- Foie gras on a slice of gingerbread as an appetizer
- A Capon as the main dish
- A Christmas Buche as dessert
The Buche is really important. This dessert can be found in every bakery and there are different types: cake or ice-cream, fruit or chocolate flavored. Always in a log shape and decorated with its little plastic Santa or the woodcutter and his saw. Kitsch but mandatory!
Apart from the food, French people pay less attention to the decorations than Americans. For example, a typical house in France will just have a Christmas tree and its garlands and ornaments . Sometimes, there are some other little Christmassy touches here and there, but that’s all. No lights, no inflatables, just something simple.
About the presents, we get ready pretty late in France. Lots of people wait for the last 2 weeks to do their Christmas shopping. Also, surprises are not as common except for the young kids. We give each other an idea of what we want and by doing so, avoid the “presents for the closet (or re gifting)”. And one more time, the 24th is the big day, we wait for midnight and open our presents. An additional difference is that Christmas cards are not that trendy anymore in France and tend to be used only by our grandmas, while in the United States they seem to be making a come back among the younger generations!
If you want to experience the French Christmas spirit, we recommend visiting the Christmas markets all across France (the biggest are in the North and the East of the Hexagon) on your travels.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday’s to everyone!