Christmas Around the World is a 10-part series. This audio podcast on France is narrated by Nathan Foreman. He lived in France for 12 years before his missionary parents returned to the States.
Nathan Foreman: Christmas in France is celebrated mainly in a religious manner, though secular ways of celebrating the occasion also exist, such as Christmas fairs, decorations and carols.Children do not hang Christmas stockings but put their shoes by the fireplace so Père Noël, Father Christmas – or Santa Claus – can give them gifts.
Families also attend midnight mass and decorate their homes with Nativity Scenes depicting the birth of Jesus. Additional Santons, or little saints, may be added in the nativity scenes.
In France and in other French-speaking areas, a long family dinner, called a réveillon, is held on Christmas Eve. The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil, which means waking, because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond.
Réveillon is generally of an exceptional or luxurious nature. Appetizers may include lobsters, oysters, escargots or foie gras. One traditional dish is turkey with chestnuts.
Réveillons in Quebec will often include some variety of tourtière. Dessert may consist of a bûche de Noël or in Provence, the tradition of the 13 desserts is followed, almost invariably including: pompe à l’huile, a flavoured bread of sorts, dates, and other things.
Quality wine is usually consumed a such dinners, often with champagne or similar sparkling wines as a conclusion.
Audio captured and edited by Ed Stortro
Audio transcription by Ed Stortro
Voice over Nathan Foreman