They are not to be missed. He’s supposed to accompany French Santa and whip or scoop up all the kids who’ve been bad and put them into a sack. I soon realized that Americans get drained after the holidays (if not before) and need a break to recover! Editor’s Note: The author, Cynthia Moos, is the founder of Best French Forever, a biweekly newsletter for francophiles. I mean, Merry Christmahanakwanzika!

You might get a holiday card from someone from an older generation who’s not going to see you in person,  but receiving a glossy photo of a kid on Santa’s lap with the words Joyeux Noël pasted over it is simply not done here. French Truly | Helping you become a little bit French. Not in France. France has a very rough equivalent of the Krampus, though a bit less scary-looking: Le Père Fouettard (literally, Whipping Father).

Four days later, we would plant wheat in a cup for the feast of Sainte Barbe and watch it grow every day. French cities and villages alike string up lights, illuminating the cold winter streets with holiday cheer. I could go on and on about the holiday season in France. The food is delicious! Growing up, we didn’t have many decorations, but we would spend hours and hours placing and adjusting ornaments on the Christmas tree and setting up the nativity scene (called la crèche). Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Since it’s non-religious, just about everyone in France celebrates New Year’s. These are all very, very common throughout the country, and as I wrote in the article, there are also events like midnight mass in some places, as well as local religious celebrations around holiday time. Most Christmas-related ads you’ll see are glittery catalogue pages, billboards, and TV spots for different luxury foods (usually to be washed down with champagne), especially caviar/fish eggs (pro tip: oeufs de lump (lumpfish eggs) are much cheaper but still super-delicious spread on buttered toast), chocolates, oysters (huîtres), scallops (coquilles Saint Jacques), smoked salmon (saumon fumé), and, of course, foie gras. This is my fourth Christmas in France and I find it completely charming; very much as you’ve described. They’re meant to celebrate what makes you feel good (whether it’s spiritual or personal). Bonne année. Several of my students, who usually adored me and were very enthusiastic about learning English, would skeptically say, out of nowhere, “You know, Santa was created by the Coca-Cola company.”. Whatever your religion, if you can make it to a midnight mass in France, I’d definitely recommend going at least once in your life. In recent years, the Krampus, an angry Christmas demon in Central European tradition has become popular, with increased press coverage of Krampus Night (December 5), not to mention his own horror movie! Different surveys show between 80% and 60% of the French consider foie gras a holiday “must”. As a kid, our holiday season would officially start December 1 when I opened the first compartment of the Advent chocolate calendar. When it comes to celebrating, there’s less opportunity for people to get up in arms about Christmas anyway, since things like Christmas pageants or concerts in public schools don’t exist, and non-Christians tend to be relatively private about their faith. But for the most part, music just isn’t a part of Christmas in France the way it is in many other places. My favorite thing about Hanukkah in Paris is that you will occasionally come across vans or cars with huge menorahs on top of them, blasting Yiddish or Sephardic music. If you want to get more creative, do an internet search for something like “façons originales de dire [plug in expression that you want to be creative with]”. That’s two full months of celebrations! Not all French people eat foie gras (although that’s usually simply because they don’t like it, rather than animal rights-related issues), but for most of the population, it’s the essential part of a true holiday celebration. Paris is even famous for the holiday window displays in its grands magasins (department stores), which feature different themes each year, and incorporate puppets, animatronics, video art, designer clothes and jewelry, toys, and much more in innovative and whimsical ways.
Here are a few cultural factors for both sides to consider. Their parents just may not like him very much. Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. In France, the holiday season kicks off December 5 for the feast of Sainte Barbe and lasts until the Chandeleur often associated with Candlemas on February 2. The easiest way to do this is to visit a boulangerie that is also a chocolaterie (often written as chocolatier (chocolate maker)) – that is, one that makes and sells its own chocolates, or simply to visit a famous chocolate shop. Just remember to focus on what is most meaningful to you and your loved ones: joy, peace, and love. Is it fun to celebrate the winter holidays in France.

Gaudy commercials. In stores that want to play on the Christmas spirit (to open potential customers’ wallets, more than their hearts), you might hear some English-language carols over the radio. You won’t find them everywhere in France, but artisans in Provence are famous for the ones they create. Le Père Fouettard? In France, New Year’s is a very important holiday because it includes pretty much anyone, regardless of their faith, culture, etc.

You’re right that the spiritual side isn’t as played-up; this is because France is very much a secular country where people are less open about discussing/showing their religion.

In French, as in English and many other languages, you have several options when it comes to expressing your holiday cheer: Joyeux Noël.

Although many French people don’t go overboard when it comes to decorating their home (inside or out), tastefully pretty lights and window displays in towns and shops are de rigueur in most of the country.

|Published on: Dec 17, 2015|Categories: CULTURE, EVENT, Uncategorized|. There are two main ways to say “New Year’s Eve” in French: la Saint-Sylvestre or la réveillon (du Jour de l’an). Pass on the same old celebrations and put the "new" back in new year.

Once the new year arrives, everyone goes crazy, sending messages to just about anyone they know, wishing them Bonne année. In St. Étienne two years ago Santa came down in a helium ballon and then slid down a rope to a cheering crowd. This last one is la vedette (the star) of Christmas.

Marrons glacés (caramelized chestnuts) are also fairly common. As an American who pretty much depended on the ball in Times Square to tell me when the year had changed, this still kind of throws me off. This is the general way to say “Happy Holidays.”.

In the years I’ve lived in France, I’ve met all kinds of families, from all kinds of backgrounds, and nary a one has ever included le Père Fouettard in its Christmas beliefs. In terms of Christmas being commercial in France, that surprises me, too, but this may be because I grew up in America, where Christmas is SUPER commercial – compared to that, I find the French way of celebrating Christmas to be much more lowkey and far more focused on food and the spirit of the season than things like presents. I’ve never been a fan of “the war on Christmas” concept, not the least because I come from a two-faith family and always celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah. Born and raised in southern France, now a resident of Chicago, I’ve been able to experience the holiday spirit in both countries and spot many differences in the ways people celebrate across the pond. Some places make a name for themselves with things like light sculpture displays, including the famous annual Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) in Lyon, where the facades of the city’s buildings are illuminated in different artistic and interesting ways each year. And Christmas is no exception: A typical Christmas meal lasts about six to seven hours. Larger cities have much larger displays that fill the squares and go on for many « blocks ». You’ve probably heard about the never-ending French dinner. Most French people who celebrate Christmas have Christmas trees in their homes – even in small Parisian apartments (well, we have small trees, anyway).
The typical French holiday dessert is the bûche de Noël (Yule log), and in keeping with the aesthetic aspect of decorating here, you’ll find everything from a basic round log with delicious swirled ingredients, to innovative (often very expensive) versions created by famous pâtissiers (pastry chefs). Here are some typical French Christmas customs…or lack thereof: In the United States, we “color code” holidays.

Those that do exist, like Alain Chabat’s Santa et Cie. aren’t near and dear to the French psyche. As the winter holidays approached, a strange thing started happening. That said, a majority of the French population is Christian, or at least follows Christian traditions even if they’re non-practicing.

In the Eastern site of the European countries, Santa Claus is not actually … How present are other faiths and celebrations during the winter holidays in France? Facts like this help you keep in mind that although it can be helpful to get a general lay of the land, not every person or place is uniformly the same. Here is the link for Tino Rossi’s “Petit Papa Noël”. That said, you didn’t see any churches with manger (creche) displays, or Christmas trees outside them?

as appetizers, accompanied by the best wine saved just for this occasion. What French winter holiday traditions do you like the best? You may get or give something expensive, but it’s not done with a lot of fanfare, and generally speaking, adults don’t exchange multiple gifts. In addition to Le Père Noël (Santa Claus/Father Christmas – more on him a little further on), French children will usually also get presents from relatives, family friends, etc. Rather than worrying about spending money on gifts, our holiday season was all about enjoying visits from out-of-towners, looking at the holiday street lights, preparing for the Christmas feast, and delighting in the coziness that comes with winter.

It made me reminisce of my Christmases in France: excitement and impatience were definitely there yet also a feeling of peace and serenity—as if time were stopped forever. I’ve seen American homes filled with presents and kids on Christmas day being more excited about the wrapping paper than the actual doll or game inside it. Le secret: Don’t panic at the sight of so many more dishes than usual: Try a bit of everything if you feel like it, and don’t forget to savor every bite. You may have learned about le Père Fouettard in your French classes. Some people make grand gestures, while others keep it simple. Required fields are marked *.

As the tradition goes, if it flourished through December 25, you’d have a prosperous year ahead. Luckily, like many boulangeries, my local one sells bûchettes de Noël (mini Yule log cakes), so I can still get my fix. Unlike in some other places, New Year’s in France tends to focus on friends, rather than family.


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