Sunday, December 23, 2012

Better Know a Christmas: France

Bonjourrrrrr, ya cheese eating surrender monkeys! A Joyeux Noel to you all! Christmas is just a few hours away, so it's about time I brush off another edition of "Better Know A Christmas."

For those new to the blog, it's a yearly blog series where I profile how Christmas is celebrated in other countries! Today's country is France.

Like many of the other European countries I've profiled, the Christmas season usually starts out on December 6th, St. Nicholas' Day The kids there usually do the same thing as ones from the other countries: Put their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with presents by the Christ Child, or their version of Santa, Père Noël."

Besides doing other stuff like hanging nuts and fruits by that fireplace, the naughty children surrender to the French equivalent of Santa's evil helper: Père Fouettard.

Kinda looks like Zappa if you ask me.

But this is mostly in the Northern part of France. Everywhere else has Père Noël show up on Christmas Eve, while adults usually give presents to each other on New Year's Day.

There's no Christmas Tree to be found in France. Rather, this is the country of origin of the Yule Log.

Either in log form or as a cake, the French started the tradition that said log should last from Christmas to New Year's to bring good luck and warmth to the whole family. These days they mostly make do with the cake, but you can plainly see it was built for durability.

While the French eat their logs, their main Christmas centerpiece are tiny nativity scenes called Creches.

Pretty sure there were Daleks at the nativity. And Mr. Bean.

I'm not too sure, but I'd like to think this was the origin of those tiny little Christmas towns you see people buy up to make little festive cities in their own house. Like this one:

A more fancy way of saying "Empty Nest Syndrome."

What I like about the French Christmas after the two hours I spent researching this is their annual Christmas feast, called Le Réveillon.

Dibs on the kickass dessert tree.

Eaten after midnight mass (though fewer people these days actually bother to go to it), the feast varies on the region. It could contain ham, turkey stuffed with chestnuts, oysters, goose, those freaking snails, and foie gras. And yes, even cheese.

Well folks, that about wraps things up for this edition of Better Know a Christmas. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever the hell you celebrate! I'll be taking a page from the French and waving my white flag with pride this year.

Until next time, don't forget to check out the other Christmases that I've Better Known:

Great Britain
The Netherlands

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