How is Christmas Celebrated in France?

• 7m to read •

Joyeux Noël! Here's a guide to French Christmas traditions, from the perfect French Christmas dinner to popular holiday activities. So, if you're curious about how the French celebrate Christmas, read on for more information about traditional foods, customs and activities. Bonne lecture!

How is Christmas Celebrated in France? | Love to Sing

Joyeux Noël! Christmas in France is a time for family, friends and feasting. Here's a guide to French Christmas traditions, from the perfect French Christmas dinner to popular holiday activities. No matter what your plans are for Christmas, spending it in France, or celebrating like the French do, is sure to be a memorable experience.

So, if you're curious about how the French celebrate Christmas, read on for more information about traditional foods, customs and activities. Bonne lecture!

How Do the French People Celebrate Christmas Today?

France starts to celebrate its Christmas on 4 December, St. Barbara’s Day, and continues as far as Candlemas (2 February). Christmas in France is a public holiday and is celebrated by the whole country. The main celebrations take place on Christmas Eve, when families gather to enjoy a traditional meal and exchange gifts. On Christmas Day, people attend church services and spend time with loved ones.





Other popular activities during the holidays include decorating homes and Christmas trees, singing carols, attending holiday markets and exchanging Advent calendars.

Santa Claus is called Père Noël in French and he visits children on Christmas Eve. Come Christmas eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace or at the doorstep and Père Noël fills them with candy and small gifts. It is also common for children to write letters to Père Noël in the weeks leading up to Christmas, letting him know what they would like for Christmas.

Santa is called Père Noël in France | Love to Sing

Santa is called Père Noël in France

Food plays an important role in French Christmas celebrations. Some of the most popular dishes served during the holidays include roast goose, duck or turkey, roasted chestnuts, bûche de Noël (a type of yule log cake) and pain d’épices (a spice bread). For dessert, many people enjoy holiday classics like Christmas pudding, mince pies and trifle.

Of course, no French Christmas would be complete without a festive nativity scene called a crèche. These displays often feature lifelike figurines of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and animals arranged in a manger scene.

What is the largest Christmas market in France?

The largest Christmas market in France is the Christkindelsmärik, which is held in Strasbourg. This market attracts around two million visitors each year and features over 300 stalls selling traditional holiday goods like Christmas decorations, toys, clothes and food. The Christkindelsmärik isn't just for shopping though, with a number of musical performances and other entertainment options to enjoy whilst walking around the quaint market.

Christmas in the Alsace region in France | Love to Sing

Christmas in the Alsace region in France

If you're looking for a smaller, more intimate Christmas market experience, you might want to check out the markets in Colmar or Riquewihr. These markets are located in Alsace, a region in Northeastern France that's known for its beautiful medieval towns and festive Christmas traditions.

What are some popular French Christmas songs?

Some popular French Christmas songs include "Minuit, Chrétiens" ("Midnight, Christians"), "Il est né le divin enfant" ("He is Born, the Divine Child") and "Mon beau sapin" ("O Christmas Tree"). "Minuit, chrétiens" is a traditional French carol that tells the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. "Il est né le divin enfant" is another popular carol that celebrates the Nativity. "Mon beau sapin" is a more modern Christmas song that's often sung by children. It's about a boy who dreams of having a beautiful Christmas tree of his own.





If you're interested in celebrating Christmas like the French do, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Whether you're attending a holiday dinner party or simply want to enjoy some traditional food, French Christmas traditions are sure to add some extra festive cheer to your holidays.

What is The History of Christmas in France?

Christmas was brought to France by the Romans and the first recorded Christmas celebration in France took place in the city of Reims in 496 AD, when Clovis I, the first King of the Franks, and his 3,000 warriors were baptized. Bishop Rémi had purposely chosen the day of the Nativity for this ceremony. 

The baptism of King Clovis I in Reims 496AD on Christmas day | Love to Sing

The baptism of King Clovis I in Reims 496AD on Christmas day

However, it wasn't until the Middle Ages that Christmas began to be celebrated more widely in France. At this time, the holiday was associated with feasting and merrymaking. Many of the traditions we now associate with Christmas, such as decorating homes with evergreen trees and wreaths, were introduced to France during the 16th century by Protestant German immigrants.

Christmas didn't become an official public holiday in France until 1814. Since then, Christmas has been an important part of French culture.





While Christmas is now a secular holiday in France, it still retains many of its religious roots. For instance, in recent years some French Christians have begun to celebrate Advent, the four-week period leading up to Christmas. During Advent, many people attend special church services and light candles each Sunday. Some families also have an Advent calendar, which helps

What are Some Christmas Traditions in France?

Christmas traditions in France have been influenced by a number of different cultures and religions over the centuries. However, Protestant German that travelled and settled in France have left a heavy influence in today's traditions, especially in the Alsace region, which borders Germany. Today, Christmas is a secular holiday in France, but it still retains many of its religious roots.

One of the most popular Christmas traditions in France is the crèche, or nativity scene. Crèches are often found in homes, churches and public squares during the holidays. They depict the birth of Jesus Christ and usually feature lifelike figurines of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and animals arranged in a manger scene. Although, they are banned in public spaces such as schools, hospitals and local councils.





Another common Christmas tradition in France is the Advent calendar. Advent calendars are used to count down the days until Christmas. They usually have 24 windows, with one window opened each day during December leading up to Christmas Eve. Each window often contains a small treat, such as a piece of chocolate.

Christmas trees are also a popular decoration in France during the holidays. They were introduced to the country by Protestant German immigrants during the 16th century and have been a part of French Christmas traditions ever since. Christmas trees are often decorated with lights, tinsel and ornaments. presents are usually placed underneath the tree on Christmas Eve.

What Is a Traditional French Christmas Dinner?

A traditional French Christmas dinner is called le Réveillon de Noël. This meal is typically enjoyed after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and can last well into the early hours of Christmas Day. The meal often starts with an hors d'oeuvre, such as oysters or foie gras, followed by a fish or shellfish dish.

Oysters are on the menu for Christmas dinner in France | Love to Sing

The main course is usually a roasted meat, such as turkey, goose or duck. After the main course, there is usually a cheese course and then dessert. Desserts for le Réveillon de Noël can include anything from Christmas pudding to mince pies to trifle.

In recent years, le Réveillon de Noël has become more of a family affair, with people enjoying the meal together at home rather than going out to restaurants. If you're interested in trying a traditional French Christmas dinner, there are a few recipes that you can use to get started.

What is a traditional French Christmas Dessert?

Bûche de Noël is a type of yule log cake that's popular in France. This cake is usually made from chocolate sponge cake and is often decorated with meringue mushrooms, whipped cream and marzipan. The cake is meant to resemble a real log that has been cut from the forest and is sometimes even dusted with powdered sugar to give it a snow-covered appearance.

How to Have a Perfect French Christmas

Well, in France, the perfect French Christmas would actually start on the 24th!

6:00 AM Wake up and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with family or friends.

10:30 AM Head to the Christmas market in your town or city to do some holiday shopping. Be sure to try some of the traditional French foods on offer, such as ginger cake (pain d'épices) and candied roasted chestnuts (marrons glacés).

1:00 PM Stop by a local church or cathedral to admire the nativity scene and maybe even attend a Christmas Mass.

3:00 PM Enjoy a traditional French Christmas dinner with your family or friends. Be sure to try some of the classic dishes, such as oysters, foie gras and Bûche de Noël.





7:00 PM Spend the evening chatting with loved ones, watching Christmas movies or participating in fun holiday activities.

12:00 AM Ring in Christmas Day with a glass of champagne and a midnight kiss!

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to France now so you can experience a truly French Christmas. Whether you decide to indulge in the country’s traditional foods or participate in some of the festive activities, there’s no doubt that you’ll have a memorable holiday season. Vive le Noël Français!

Subscribe to our Christmas Club and get a free song!

Popular reading

Subscribe to our Christmas Club and get a free song!