Christmas in France

Joyeux Noel, or Christmas in France, is a fun time of celebration just as it is here in the United States.

tl_files/images/christmas-in-france.jpgPhoto Credit: Marc Lagneau

Regional Celebrations

While most of France celebrates Christmas on December 25, some regions celebrate Christmas a bit differently. Northern and Eastern France begin their Christmas celebration on December 6, which is la fete de Saint Nicholas, which is the most important holiday of the Christmas season.


If you live in Lyon the most important Christmas holiday is December 8, la Fete de lumieres, where you pay homage to the Virgin Mary by placing lit candles in your windows. No matter how the Christmas holiday is celebrated in France, it is a time for family and generosity.

Shoes Instead of Stockings

In France rather than placing stockings from the chimney, children put their shoes in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve. During the night, Papa Noel comes and fills the shoes of the good little girls and boys with gifts. While there is no coal put ion the shoes of naughty children, some regions pass on the tradition that Pere Fouettard will come during the night to give spankings to any children that were naughty.

Santa Writes Back

No matter if the children are naughty or nice a law was passed in 1962 that stated any child who wrote a letter to Santa was guaranteed a response back from Santa, which is sent in the form of a postcard.

la Messe de Minuit

Another important part of Christmas in France is the la Messe de Minuit on Christmas Eve, although as the years go by fewer families are attending. Le Reveillon, which follows la Messe de Minuit, is a huge feast that is used to celebrate Christ’s birth in a symbolic way. The feast can be held at home, but can also be enjoyed in a restaurant or café that open throughout the night. Depending on what region of France you are in the traditional menu might vary, but on most menus, you will find turkey, capon, goose, chicken, and boudin blanc.


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