In France, Christmas is a time for family to gather. Most of France celebrates Christmas on December 25, but the actual celebration of Christmas begins on December 6, and is known as La Fête de Saint Nicolas. In the city of Lyon, the celebration begins on December 8 and is better known as the Fête de Lumières. On Christmas Eve, children in France usually put socks in front of the fireplace, hoping that by Christmas morning, Father Christmas (Père Noël) will have filled them with toys, candy, or fruit. On Christmas Eve, families have a traditional dinner together, called as Le Reveillon. The menu consists of oysters, sausages, wine, roasted ham, roasted poultry, salads, fruit and cake.
Some cities in France do other traditions and festivals to celebrate Christmas, such as:
- Christmas Market
Almost all cities in France have a Christmas Market annually. In Roue, the event is held from December 8th – January 6th, and in Caen, the event is held from December 1st – December 24th. At the Christmas Market, you can buy various Christmas items, have a family meal, and do other Christmas activities.
In Aquitaine, Christmas celebrations are held from November to January. On December 16th, citizens hold Lo Halha de Nada, a tradition where they burn a Christmas sheaf made of straw and corn stalk. Then they bring the ashes to the village in order to expel evil spirits. Another tradition is Pique-hou. Children sing a Pique-hou song to welcome baby Jesus.
Reims is known as the Christmas Village. In this village, they have lots of fireworks, a Christmas market, and other Christmas activities.
Christmas is celebrated royally in Paris. The streets are decorated with various lights, Christmas trees, and other Christmas decorations. By the time Christmas arrives, the city is known as the City of Lights. In addition, there are arts performances, such as ballet by Rudolf Noureev at the Opéra Bastille. Each year, there is also a show called “A Magical Christmas” at the Futuroscope. This is a magic and illusion show with a Christmas theme. This show is very popular among the French.
Normandy has several unique Christmas traditions. There is a Christmas organ concert in Calvados at Saint-Augustine Church. The famous organists of Normandy participate in this event. Santa’s Sand Yachting on Omaha Beach is a yacht race held at Omaha Beach. The Real-life Crib in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët is a Christmas-themed musical drama, which lasts about 30 minutes in the city of Manche.
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Many safe travels and have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!