My French Christmas: Elisabeth

Hannah Duke 12/11/12
How do you spend Christmas in France? What do the French do better at Christmas time? And what could they learn from your pays de naissance? We investigate…

Elisabeth says…

One of my favourite things about Christmas in France…
I have not one, but two. Both have to do with family gatherings.

6430536509_b3d2ed92cb_b1. I come from a very Catholic family, and when I was little, my uncle Jean was Director of the Seminary in Lille.

We would go to the midnight mass there, and, even though it was a very long ceremony, I loved the very lavish high mass, the incense, the singing, and I was very proud that my uncle was the main celebrant.

2. Not on Christmas day, but sometime between Christmas and New Year, when my uncle Jean (who was then the Bishop of Annecy, in the Alps) could come up to northern France after Christmas, we would have a family gathering with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My uncle would celebrate a private mass at my aunt Monique’s house, and my father, who was a trained chef, would prepare the entire meal, which lasted all afternoon. Sometimes, after dinner, my brother, my cousins, and I would prepare skits that we would perform for the adults.

What I miss about Christmas in my hometown…
Holiday time specialties that you can buy at local food shops.


What I think the French do better at Christmas…
Le réveillon (Christmas eve dinner) is a wonderful custom that is not really common in the United States. It is a very traditional and very long dinner to be shared with the entire family or/and close friends – and some foods have to be on the menu – typically: snails, raw oysters, foie gras, turkey (with chestnut stuffing), and bûche de Noël.

What are your favourite things about Christmas in France?

Tell us in a comment below, or tweet us: @MaVieFrancaise, #MyFrenchChristmas.

Read more articles from the MaVieFrançaise® guide to Christmas here.

Image credits:
1. Christmas mass, by Government Press Office on Flickr
2. Virginia Jones

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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One Comment

  1. flavours Dec 18, 2012 at 5:03 AM - Reply

    My French Christmas wouldn’t be complete without Galette des Rois, so sweet but so good. Recipe:

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