France never quite does it like the rest of the world and there is no exception on holidays. France has its own traditions to celebrate the season and they might surprise you.
Typical Christmas day dinner dishes might include a roast goose, oysters, smoked salmon, plenty of foie gras, lobster, shrimp, venison, and cheeses. For dessert, a chocolate sponge cake log called ‘ la bûche de Noël’ is a festive treat. Often a post-dinner snack is served of pineapples, plums and exotic fruit like litchis.
France also has two other food-based holidays around Christmas called the feast of St. Nicolas on Dec 6th and the feast of the Kings on Jan 6th.. The king’s cake, ‘galette des rois’, is a cake traditionally shared at Epiphany, on 6 January. It celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem. Composed of a puff pastry cake, with a small charm, the ‘fève’, hidden inside, it is usually filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar. The little figurine is highly sought after by the children and whoever has the piece of cake with the ‘feve’ inside gets to wear a crown and be king for a day!
Christmas dinners are very inclusive and often are attended by both extended family and friends. Nativity scenes are also respective of this tradition, most Nativity scenes include the townspeople such as bakers and farmers.
France is known for beautiful Christmas markets scattered over each unique region, called les marches de Noël. The most well-known market would have to be one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe that are held in Strasbourg, in North Eastern France.
France never wants the Christmas spirit to fade, every town center is decorated in lights. Letters from French kids to Pere Noël don’t just disappear into bins or drawers in France. Since 1962, France has had a law that any letter to Santa must be responded to by a postcard. The law has no doubt helped keep the magic of Santa Claus in the hearts of many French kids, although I am sure the post office is far from thrilled.
The burning of a yule log is an old tradition practiced more recently in the South of France. A Cherry Wood log is taken inside into the home on Christmas Eve and is sprinkled with red wine which makes a wonderful festive smell when burning.
In French to say Merry Christmas, you say ‘Joyeux Noël’ and we would like to wish you all a Joyeux Noël this year!
From all of us at the Haute Wedding Team,
Estelle, Monica, Anna, Charlie, & Kerry.