That is why in this article we are going to tell you what the tradition is of each part of this beautiful country so that you can enjoy these holidays with your loved ones as you deserve.
Christmas Markets in France
One of the traditions of France during Christmas is to create beautiful markets in the streets, full of lights, sweets, and other Christmas gifts. One of the oldest Christmas markets in France is those in the Alsace region, which are both the most beautiful and authentic due to their historical ties to Germany. Among the most popular markets are:
- The Strasbourg market: The Strasbourg market is the oldest of all. It was held for the first time in 1570 in the Plaza de la Catedral. Here you can enjoy sweets, traditional products, mulled wine, and different Christmas decorations. One of the obligatory stops if you go to Strasbourg for Christmas.
- The Paris market: at Christmas, Paris celebrates this holiday with more than 125 squares and streets full of lights, banners, garlands, and Christmas balls. One of the most beautiful is the Mercado de la Défense, the most modern center of the capital.
- The Aix-en-Provence market: this is a city of Roman origin, once known as Aquae Sextiae. The Aix-en-Provence market has more than 50 wooden chalets or stalls where many artisans display and sell their works and other food products of the city. We can also find terracotta figures, toys, and other items.
- The Nantes market: Nantes is one of the most important French cities that is located near the sea. In addition, its market is also one of the best known in the entire Francophone territory. More than 100 wooden stands fill the streets with local products and interesting Christmas gift ideas.
- Carcassonne market: Carcassonne or Carcassonne is a beautiful medieval city surrounded by walls and located in the south of France. In fact, the city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. During Christmas, the market is the most popular and important event of all. It is located in the Carnot squares and the old town is full of lights and decorations.
- The Avignon market: being the city of the Popes, in the Avignon market we can find various manger figures, the so-called “santons”, as well as jewelry, games, decorative objects, among others.
Christmas Trees in France and other Decorations
The Christmas tree or sapin de Noël is the main Christmas decoration in France, which is placed both inside houses, in the streets, shops, and offices. This peculiar tree was created in the 14th century and is usually decorated with apples, ribbons, and paper flowers.
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In addition, many churches and other places carry out living mangers and wherever you go, you can see bouquets of mistletoes, especially on the door frames of homes, to attract good luck.
Le Père Noël or Santa Claus in France
A beautiful peculiarity of France with respect to Santa Claus is that there is a law decreed in 1962, which says that all letters written by children to Santa Claus or Père Noël, must be answered with an individualized postcard. Precious, right?
In addition, children have to leave their shoes in front of the fireplace so that Santa Claus or Père Noël can fill them with little gifts. Also, as a family, during the night sweets are hung on the Christmas tree, such as candies, fruits, and nuts.
Other Christmas Traditions
On December 24 it is very common for the most religious families to celebrate the so-called Messe de Minuit, “Christmas Eve Mass”, just after Le Réveillon, a great feast where seafood, chicken, or turkey stuffed with nuts and that symbolizes the celebration for the birth of Jesus.
La bûche de Noël, what is it?
During the Christmas holidays, France has some traditional desserts. The best known of all is the bûche de Noël (also known as “the Yule trunk”). It consists of a cake in the shape of a trunk made of chocolate and nuts. This dessert represents the log burned in the chimneys of homes from the beginning of Christmas until the beginning of the new year, symbolizing the passage from one year to another.
Other Traditional Desserts from France
- Le pain calendal or Christmas pudding: this is a beautiful tradition from the south of France. This pudding is created in order to share it with those most in need.
- La Galette des Rois or Roscón de Reyes: as in Spain, it is a dessert that is eaten on Three Kings Day and that, whoever finds the surprise hidden inside, can put on a crown. The only difference is that it is served by a child hidden under the table, who is called le petit roi or l’enfant Soleil.
How is New Year’s Eve celebrated in France?
Unlike other countries like Spain, at the end of the year, France does not have chimes. Neither do special television programs that mark the countdown or drink the grapes. There they simply look at the clock at 00:00 and toast with champagne.
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Before the appointed time, they enjoy a copious dinner known as the “Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre”. When they enter the new year, in addition to toasting with champagne, they sing, hug and kiss under a mistletoe.
Another peculiarity is that this holiday is not celebrated with the family, but rather they meet with friends at home because the vast majority of bars and clubs close on that day. However, many choose to travel to the Eiffel Tower or the Champs Elysees, where they light fireworks and make a lot of noise with trumpets and whistles.
Adapted and translated by The Cop Cart Staff