It’s almost Christmas, your house is decorated, your tree is up, most of your presents are bought, you have your menu in mind, you’re ready for Christmas… BUT! Are you ready for French Christmas???
What does she mean French Christmas?
Christmas is a Christian Holiday. It can’t be that different, can it? Yes! It can! Here’s what different for us: the date, the food, and the featured stars!
Vous êtes prêts?
Let’s start with the date because you’re probably thinking I lost my mind.
For me and a lot of French people, Christmas is on December 24th, not the 25th. That’s the day we eat, we celebrate, we open presents, we say Joyeux Noël! Some of us go to la messe de minuit, the midnight mass, which of course does not happen at midnight, usually around 7pm.
And now the French Christmas food! Remember I’m from Lyon and that I’m sharing with your my own regional traditions.
Le menu is separated in 4 parts:
1- l’entrée, this is a false friend it does not mean main dish but appetizer
2- le plat principal
3- le fromage
4- le dessert
1- For l’entrée we eat du saumon fumé, smoked salmon, and du foie gras
2- For le plat principal we eat la dinde aux marrons, turkey with warm chestnuts, and / or le chapon farci, stuffed capon, and / or boudin blanc aux pommes, white sausage with warm apples. Now of course use the spelling I am giving you here and go look these all up on the internet!
3- For le fromage we don’t do anything particular other than making it look pretty on un plateau de formage. And by the way, always remember to always start with the milder cheese and end with the strongest one. Otherwise you’ll mess up your taste buds and you’ll miss out on all the delicious flavors.
4- For le dessert we eat all sorts of bûches de Noël! Chocolate, coffee, chestnut, and vanilla are the most common flavors. They are called bûches because they look like wooden logs.
Moving on to our French Christmas featured stars!
Papa Noël is our Santa! Papa means daddy, Daddy Christmas. Next week I will make you sing the most favorite French Christmas song of little children… it’s called Petit Papa Noël.
Now don’t believe that is the only Christmas personality in France! Some others were famous and celebrated long before Papa Noël!
Saint Nicolas was a bishop from 4th century Turkey, he was the protector of the weak mainly children & widows. But it’s not until the 12th century that he becomes a Christmas celebrity and once again, the date is different. It is during the night between December 5th and December 6th that Saint Nicolas goes from home to home to distribute presents to all the children… all of them? No. Only the good ones.
The bad ones get a little visit from le Père Fouettard!
The whipping father! He’s a scary, dirty mean man who goes from home to home to take the naughty children away in his sack. The French know how to make children behave.
La Tante Arie is a lovely fairy creature called Aunt Airie, tante means aunt.
She and her donkey Marion live in a grotto where people come to visit her so she will warm them up physically, they were cold, and emotionally by cheering them up with beautiful promises for the future. She knows what little children want for Christmas because the wind carries their dreams to her ear. Isn’t that sweet? Again, only if you have been good because if not, you get a bunch of twigs.
Oh non!! It’s not at all what I asked for!