Christmas in France: The parties themselves begin on December 24. Even so, already at the end of November (a month before Christmas, approximately), the gun goes off for Christmas shopping and Christmas decorations.
The streets of the cities are filled with lights, shop windows display their finery and the French begin visits to the department stores to collect gifts and typical products.
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Christmas Eve and Christmas are family celebrations par excellence. Families sit down to the table to exchange good wishes and enjoy delicacies such as foie gras (duck or goose), boudin blanc (white blood sausage), roasted turkey, Noel buche (“trunk”) of Christmas “: cake in the shape of a log, covered with chocolate and stuffed with truffle or cream), chocolates and champagne.
Santa Claus leaves gifts by the fireplace or the Christmas tree for each member of the family. In a country that prides itself on cultivating the art of gastronomy and hospitality around good food, the house is carefully decorated: candles lit on the table, hanging holly sprigs.
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The manager, called in French creche (“stable”), is strongly rooted, especially in the south. In Provence are traditional figurines of clay crib, called their santons (“saints” in Provencal).
The familiar look of Christmas does not forget its religious aspect. It is traditional to attend the night of December 24 at the Mass of the Gallo or Messe de Minuit. although practicality means that this Mass often takes place in the late afternoon, before dinner, and not at midnight, as its name suggests.
Christmas Eve and Christmas, which in France is called Noel, are a traditionally familiar moment. The dinner of December 24 is undoubtedly the culmination of the celebrations.
Around a table beautifully adorned with candles and holly twigs, family and loved ones sit together to share happiness in peace and splurge affection.
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All celebrate between hugs, kisses, toasts and traditional delicacies, worthy of the gods.
Among the exquisite temptations to be tasted in this magical night is foie gras (duck liver or goose liver pate), roasted turkey, white sausage and oysters. The Christmas dessert par excellence is the “Buche de Noel”, a cake in the shape of a trunk, covered with chocolate and filled with cream or truffle. Wines and champagne delight the most demanding palates.
Before going to bed, children place their shoes in front of the fireplace. The belief is that Pere Noel passes through it with a large sack full of gifts, which he then places on the footwear of the infants. He does it while the little ones, possessed by healthy illusion, sleep.
The gifts open on the 25th in the morning. Enthusiasm or disappointment erupts. Books, electronic accessories and clothing are in this 2007 the most sold presents.
Another beautiful custom, a real luxury in the age of cell phones, Internet and SMS, is the exchange of Christmas cards printed on cardboard with messages of good wishes.
These arrive by traditional mail, just like in the last century. Among the French there is a fascination to send them and, even more, to receive them. A simple gesture that serves to announce to others that this society has not yet been dehumanized by modernity.