Wednesday, 26th December 2018

Christmas in France

Christmas customs, originating in the Middle East were introduced to France by the Romans. Reims was the site of the first French Christmas celebration when, in 496, Clovis purposely chose the day of the Nativity to have his 3,000 warriors baptised.

The fir tree was first presented as the holy tree of Christmas in Strasbourg in 1605. It was decorated with artificial coloured roses and apples, and symbolised the tree in the garden of Eden.

As in England, French houses start to get decorated in early December and we have found (at our cost!) that if you don’t buy your Christmas tree by 15th December you can forget it!..

Another custom is that of the manger, ‘la crèche’, which originated in the 12th century is placed in the centre of many towns. Rochefort en Terre always has ‘la crèche’ and some fantastic lights.

At midnight there is Christmas Mass, which in Brittany is very important to most families. When the family returns home after midnight mass, there is a late supper known as ‘le reveillon’. This meal varies according to the region in France, in Alsace, a goose is eaten, in Burgundy, a turkey, in Brittany, galettes with sour cream and in Paris, oysters and foie gras. So we get galettes and the Parisians get oysters! ...