French culture : Christmas, outline of the French traditions

A French christmas
A French christmas

French culture : Christmas

In the French culture : Christmas is an outline of the French traditions. 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.

Gastronomics traditions

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

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!

Improve your French in Paris during Christmas holidays

If you are interested the French culture : Christmas is an outline of the French tradition. If you feel like visiting Christmas markets or the stunning Christmas windows displays, our guided walks are for you.

If you’d like to immerse yourself in Parisian life, French à la Carte also offers themed tours. With our French lessons for Paris lovers, you will learn French while experiencing the daily life of a Parisian, just for a few hours!

For further information, please contact us on our website.