How is Christmas Celebrated in France? | Newsdle

How is Christmas Celebrated in France?


Christmas is a much-celebrated holiday in France, but how is it celebrated? Christmas customs tend to vary around the world, with different traditions affecting decorations, food and even present giving!


French decorations are typically more understated than the extravagant decorations seen in the US and UK. They are purchased from the marches de Noel, and quality over quantity is preferred.

The Nativity scene makes up an important part of the French Christmas décor. There are even some additional characters on display! Alongside the Holy Family and three kings, you will be able to spot more unconventional figures including a butcher, baker and even a police officer! It takes up the centrepiece of the decorations and is left on display until February 2nd!

Christmas trees are also very popular in France. They first appeared in Selestat in Alsace in the 11th century, and then the sapin de Noel became more commonplace in the 1830s. They are traditionally decorated with apples, paper flowers, and ribbons, however now it is commonplace to see modern ornaments like baubles and fairly lights.


For the children of France, the gift giving season begins early! Christmas celebrations begin on 6th December for St. Nicholas’ Day. On the eve of the festivities, children place their shoes next to the fireplace as they sign traditional songs. They also hear stories from their grandparents about the saint. The morning after, the children return to see their shoes filled with presents, only if they have been good! If they have been on St. Nicholas’ naughty list, they will find a bundle of twigs tied together with ribbon!

Eating on Christmas Eve

The French traditionally have their main meal – Le Réveillon – after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The banquet includes seasonal favourites such as oysters with mignonette sauce, foie gras, candied chestnuts, capon and a cockerel! Dessert consists of the traditional bûche de Noël, a chocolate sponge cake that resembles a yule log, paying homage to the French Christmas tradition of burning a Yule log during the holiday period.

Following Christmas festivities, next up is New Year's Eve! Discover more about how New Year's Eve is Celebrated in France in our blog post!

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