Christmas Around the World
Reagan Library Christmas Tree Exhibit


Christmas Traditions


Christmas in France is a family holiday, a religious celebration, and an occasion for merrymaking. The celebrations begin on December 5, which is St. Nicholas Eve. Decorating for Christmas is very common in France. Trees can either be decorated or can have a simple homely and traditional decor. Pere Noel, (Father Christmas) sometimes called Papa Noel, is a legendary gift-bringer at Christmas in France.

Posted Friday December 8th 2023


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French Christmas Tree
French Christmas Tree

In FrenchJoyeux Noel

Fleur-de-lis Christmas Ornament

Eiffel Tower Christmas Ornament

French Eiffel Tower Christmas Ornament

Baby Angel Christmas Ornament

Christmas in France

WIKIPEDIAChristmas in France
A major annual celebration, as in most countries of the Christian world. Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday in France on December 25, concurring alongside other countries.

Public life on Christmas Day is generally quiet. Post offices, banks, stores, restaurants, cafes and other businesses are closed. Many people in France put up a Christmas tree, visit a special church service, eat an elaborate meal and open gifts on Christmas Eve. Other activities include walking in the park, participating in city life and sharing a meal with family and close friends.

Pere Noel, "Father Christmas", sometimes called Papa Noel, is a legendary gift-bringer at Christmas in France and other French-speaking areas, identified with the Father Christmas or Santa Claus of English-speaking territories. According to tradition, on Christmas Eve children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with carrots and treats for Pere Noel's donkey, Gui (French for "Mistletoe") before they go to bed. Pere Noel takes the offerings and, if the child has been good, leaves presents in their place. Presents are traditionally small enough to fit in the shoes; candy, money, or small toys.

Traditional French Christmas food includes a lot of meats (Ham, Turkey, Chicken and Beef) with sides like mashed potatoes, beans, salad, peas and carrots. Soup and bread is also very popular. Desserts include Yule log cake, cupcakes, muffins and other cakes along with small sweet and chocolate candies.

Some typical French Christmas foods include:

  • Truffles
  • Rabbit terrine
  • Roasted capon
  • Garlic soup
  • Salad, peas, green beans, carrots and potatoes
  • Small chocolate and sweet candies

Decorating for Christmas is very common in France. Many households, public spaces, and businesses are decorated with lights and Christmas trees. Advent wreaths (Couronnes de l'Avent) are also common, they are made up of fir and pine tree branches for the first Sunday of Advent. The Advent wreath is topped by four candles, symbolizing the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Each candle is lit on each of the Sundays before Christmas.

Trees can either be decorated or can have a simple homely and traditional decor. Instead of putting up ornamental Christmas decorations on the trees, often red ribbons are used for decorating the trees. Glass or plastic ornaments that resemble the apples that were traditionally hung from Christmas trees in France are also used for decorating the trees. Small white candles are also used. The use of the mistletoe considered to bring good luck and every household in France hangs mistletoe on the doors during Christmas. It is kept till New Year and there is a belief that if you kiss it at midnight, luck will favor you and you'll be filled with happiness and prosperity in the coming year.

Some other popular decorations include shoes instead of stockings, the use of candles are very popular and are typically set on tables during Christmas meals or set on window sills. Many French households, especially Christian ones, have nativity scenes. Also known as the creche, it is kept in the living room and can be elaborate or simple, depending on individual preference.

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Trumpet Christmas Ornament

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Ronald Reagan France
May 8, 1985
President Reagan and Vivien Crea arrival ceremony at airport in Strasbourg France.


WIKIPEDIAThe French Republic
Located primarily in Western Europe. It also includes overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, giving it one of the largest discontiguous exclusive economic zones in the world. Metropolitan France shares borders with Belgium and Luxembourg to the north, Germany to the north east, Switzerland to the east, Italy and Monaco to the south east, Andorra and Spain to the south, and a maritime border with the United Kingdom to the north west. Its metropolitan area extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea; overseas territories include French Guiana in South America, Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the North Atlantic, the French West Indies, and many islands in Oceania and the Indian Ocean.

Metropolitan France was settled during the Iron Age by Celtic tribes known as Gauls before Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, leading to a distinct Gallo-Roman culture. In the Early Middle Ages, the Germanic Franks formed the Kingdom of Francia, which became the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned the empire, with West Francia evolving into the Kingdom of France. In the High Middle Ages, France was a powerful but decentralized feudal kingdom, but from the mid-14th to the mid-15th centuries, France was plunged into a dynastic conflict with England known as the Hundred Years' War. In the 16th century, the French Renaissance saw culture flourish and a French colonial empire rise. Internally, France was dominated by the conflict with the House of Habsburg and the French Wars of Religion between Catholics and Huguenots. France was successful in the Thirty Years' War and further increased its influence during the reign of Louis XIV.

The French Revolution of 1789 overthrew the Ancien Regime and produced the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. France reached its political and military zenith in the early 19th century under Napoleon Bonaparte, subjugating part of continental Europe and establishing the First French Empire. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars significantly shaped the course of European history. The collapse of the empire initiated a period of relative decline, in which France endured a tumultuous succession of governments until the founding of the French Third Republic during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Subsequent decades saw a period of economic prosperity and cultural and scientific flourishing known as the Belle Epoque. France was one of the major participants of World War I, from which it emerged victorious at great human and economic cost. It was among the Allied powers of World War II, but it surrendered and was occupied by the Axis in 1940. Following its liberation in 1944, the short-lived Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the defeat in the Algerian War. The current Fifth Republic was formed in 1958 by Charles de Gaulle. Algeria and most French colonies became independent in the 1960s, with the majority retaining close economic and military ties with France.

France retains its centuries-long status as a global centre of art, science, and philosophy. It hosts the third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the world's leading tourist destination, receiving over 89 million foreign visitors in 2018. France is a developed country with a high nominal per capita income globally and its advanced economy ranks among the largest in the world. It is a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and an official nuclear-weapon state. France is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the eurozone, as well as a key member of the Group of Seven, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Francophonie.

France has of 18 regions

  • Its eighteen integral regions (five of which are overseas) span a combined area of 248,573 sq mi. There are 13 regions in metropolitan France (including Corsica), and five overseas. The regions are further subdivided into 101 departments
  • Total population of over 68 million as of January 2023.
  • France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial center; other major urban areas include Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, and Nice.
  • France had colonial possessions, in various forms since the beginning of the 17th century, but in the 19th and 20th centuries its global overseas colonial empire extended greatly and became the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire.
  • One of the most developed economies in the world. France has a mixed market economy, characterized by sizeable government involvement, and economic diversity. For roughly two centuries, the French economy has consistently ranked among the ten largest globally. In 2018, France was the fifth-largest trading nation in the world and the second-largest in Europe, with the value of exports representing over a fifth of GDP.
  • The Paris stock exchange (French: La Bourse de Paris) is one of the oldest in the world, created by Louis XV in 1724.
  • France is a founding member of the United Nations and serves as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto rights. In 2015, it was described as "the best networked state in the world" due to its membership in more international institutions than any other country; these include the G7, World Trade Organization (WTO), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (COI).
  • The French Armed Forces are among the largest in the world and the largest in the EU. The French Armed Forces ranked as the world's sixth-most powerful military, and the second most powerful in Europe after Russia. France has major military industries and one of the largest aerospace sectors in the world.
  • With 89 million international tourist arrivals in 2018, France is the world's top tourist destination, ahead of Spain (83 million) and the United States (80 million). However, it ranks third in tourism-derived income due to the shorter duration of visits. The most popular tourist sites include (annual visitors): Eiffel Tower (6.2 million), Chateau de Versailles (2.8 million), Museum national d'Histoire naturelle (2 million), Pont du Gard (1.5 million), Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Mont Saint-Michel (1 million), Sainte-Chapelle (683,000), Chateau du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (549,000), Puy de Dome (500,000), Musee Picasso (441,000), and Carcassonne (362,000). The Eiffel Tower is the world's most-visited paid monument, an icon of both Paris and France.
  • France, especially Paris, has some of the world's largest and most renowned museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world (7.7 million visitors in 2022)
  • France is the world's tenth-largest producer of electricity. France was the biggest energy exporter in Europe, mostly to the U.K. and Italy, and the largest net exporter of electricity in the world. France derives most of its electricity from nuclear power, the highest percentage in the world. It is one of 32 countries with nuclear power plants, ranking second in the world by the number of operational nuclear reactors, at 56.
  • France possesses the Millau Viaduct, the world's tallest bridge.
  • The official language of France is French.
  • According to a survey held in 2016 51.1% of the total population of France was Christian. The current Jewish community in France is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world after Israel and the United States.
  • The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. In its 2000 assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that France provided the "close to best overall health care" in the world.
  • France hosts "the world's biggest annual sporting event", the Tour de France.
  • French cuisine is renowned for being one of the finest in the world. Different regions have different styles. In the North, butter and cream are common ingredients, whereas olive oil is more commonly used in the South.

EtymologyTthe name France comes from the Latin Francia, or "realm of the Franks". It was originally applied to the whole Frankish Empire. Modern France is still named today Francia in Italian and Spanish, while Frankreich in German, Frankrijk in Dutch and Frankrike in Swedish and Norwegian all mean "Land/realm of the Franks". The name of the Franks is related to the English word frank ("free")

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