Read about the origin, history and celebration of Christmas (Noël) in France.
Fundoo Times: Festivals: Christmas: Christmas in France

Christmas in France

Origin and History of Christmas in France

The Roman Catholics expanded Christianity in the ancient world by promising a new light (Jesus) in everyone’s life. Slowly the Orthodox Church people became successful in creating a new calendar of religious festivals which replaced all the rituals associated with ancient pagan celebration. Christmas, the festival of nativity and remembrance as the birth of Jesus Christ became the most widely celebrated festival of Christians. The customs that originated in the Middle East were slowly introduced in France by the Romans. Even though the Christmas celebration was introduced in France, it was confused with the New Year celebration until the Middle ages. Now Christmas has become the most widely observed secular and religious celebration of France.

Local name: Noël

Ways to celeberate Noël in France

In France Christmas is a time for special prayer services and family get-togethers. On Christmas Eve churches and cathedrals arrange for Masses and ring out the Christmas carols with awesome music. After returning home from the midnight mass, people have a late supper known as le réveillon. It consists of delicious food such as turkey, oysters, cakes, foie gras, chestnuts and the list goes on. After having the dinner, people leave a fire burning and delicious food on the table for Virgin Mary. Children leave their shoes in the hearth for Pere Noel to fill it with sweets and gifts. Pere Noel is the French equivalent for British Father Christmas and the American Santa Claus. Another important part of French Christmas is the crèche. Living crèche in the form of puppet shows and plays based on nativity are usually performed to spread the customs associated with Christmas. On Christmas day the prayer and community meets are organized in the churches to thank Jesus.