Christmas - France

A French Christmas

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  Joyeux Noël ! Bonne Année

  • Christmas Presents - Les Cadeaux de Noël

    In some parts of France, Christmas comes early when Father Christmas, le Père Noël, brings small gifts and sweets for children on December 6th, the feast day of Saint-Nicolas (celebrated in the North and Northeast).

    In other parts of the country, children place their shoes by the fire and wake up on Christmas Day to find them filled with presents from le Père Noël and fruit, nuts and small toys hanging on the tree. Christmas Day is mainly a day of celebration for children.

    While they all open their Christmas presents, les Cadeaux de Noël on this day, not all parents do - some are patient and wait until New Year's Eve, la Saint-Sylvestre, which is more of an adult celebration.

  • Food and Drink - Alimentation et Boissons

    After Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (which is attended by fewer and fewer nowadays) people gather at home or in a restaurant for a feast called le réveillon.

    This usually consists of oysters, les huîtres, snails, les escargots, seafood, les fruits de mer, smoked salmon, saumon fumé or le caviar as a starter, followed by goose, l'oie, or some other roasted bird for the main course, all washed down with wine, le vin or le champagne.

  • Quirky Customs - Les Coutumes Bizarres

    Saint-Nicolas has a partner, le Père Fouettard, Father Spanker, whose job it is to decide whether children have been good or bad and 'reward' bad children with a spanking!

  • A French Carol - Un Chant de Noël Français

    Vive le Vent Jingle Bells

    Vive le vent, vive le vent, vive le vent d'hiver
    Qui s'en va, sifflant, soufflant
    Dans les grands sapins verts, Oh !
    Vive le temps, vive le temps, vive le temps d'hiver
    Qui rappelle aux vieux enfants
    Leurs souvenirs d'hier !

    Sur le long chemin
    Tout blanc de neige blanche
    Un vieux monsieur s'avance
    Avec sa canne dans la main
    Et tout là-haut le vent
    Qui siffle dans les branches
    Lui souffle la romance qu'il chantait petit enfant


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