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Christmas in France: Joyeux Noel

Updated on December 4, 2014

Joyeux Noel

This is one of our Zazzle products.  The image came from W P Clipart and is in public domain.
This is one of our Zazzle products. The image came from W P Clipart and is in public domain. | Source

Christmas in France

Christmas is celebrated by Christians around the world, but not everyone celebrates Christmas the same. Each region has its own culture, so we should not be surprised than celebrations vary from country to country, and occasionally from region to region. And, the French have their own customs.

It is always interesting to learn about a new culture. But here in the United States people arrived from various parts of the world, so many have a heritage that goes back to France. Some privately celebrate the culture of their heritage. Others would like to incorporate a culture that for some reason was lost generations ago.

The French Influence in North America

The French settled Louisiana, which originally extended to Canada, and a vast part of Canada. In these areas, and even where many others migrated to, the French influence is still strong, and a French heritage exists. It would not be uncommon for descendants of French settles, or f French immigrants, to wish to include something of a French celebration in their own Christmas activities.

Merry Christmas

Well, in France I would be wishing you a Joyeax Noel, which is the French way of wishing a person a Merry Christmas.

Eiffel Tower Christmas Ornament

Kurt Adler 5-Inch Noble Gems Glass Eiffel Tower Ornament
Kurt Adler 5-Inch Noble Gems Glass Eiffel Tower Ornament

This is a Kurt Adler Christmas ornament. Kurt Adler ornaments represent high quality.


Paris at Christmas

Paris celebrates with beautiful decorations. In the Rick Steves video there are beautiful scenes from Paris, including a decorated Eiffel Tower, one of the most recognizable structures of Paris.

In addition to the beauty of Paris at Christmas, Rick Steves spends time on the foods consumed in celebrating Christmas French style. The food seems to beckon to be consumed.

Christmas in France VideoChristmas in France Video

Rick Steves makes beautiful videos of Europe. The entire sets of his videos are sold on Amazon, but he makes short segments of some available on YouTube. The video below is a segment showing much more depth than one would expect from other travel videos, and is one of his short segments that has been made available on YouTube.

Rick Steves Christmas in France

Jim Shore Santa Claus

Jim Shore Heartwood Creek French Santa Stone Resin Hanging Ornament, 4.25”
Jim Shore Heartwood Creek French Santa Stone Resin Hanging Ornament, 4.25”

Jim Shore figurines are of high quality. This one is Pe’re Noel, and is one of a number of quality Christmas ornaments.


Pe’re Noel

The Santa Claus figure takes on a slightly different appearance in different countries, and often the name is changed to accommodate the language spoken. In France the Santa Claus who comes is called Pe’re Noel. The appearance is slightly different, as can be seen in the item to the right.

The character’s name translates at Father Christmas, and can also be called Papa Noel, which translates as Daddy Christmas.

According to Wikipedia, children leave their shoes filled with carrots among other things for Pe’re Noel’s donkey near the fireplace on Christmas Eve, and receive presents in return.

In Louisiana the donkey has been replaced with alligators, and the sleigh with a pirogue. Here, the French version of Christmas has been altered, but Papa Noel is still used.

Eating and Drinking

The French know how to eat, and desserts are always popular. The region of Provence celebrates with the thirteen desserts, which are to represent Jesus and the twelve apostles. Information was scarce, but I would suppose Judas is replaced, as he was over two thousand years ago. There is no specific list of desserts, but the celebration always includes thirteen.

Christmas in France> An Expert Village Video

Nativity Sets and Santons

Santons originally came from the Provence region, and are village people figurines that are often included in Nativity sets. There are, according to Wikipedia, fifty-five different figurines in use. Inclusion of santons makes each Nativity set unique. Each family chooses the santons or figurines to add to the amily Nativity set.

Santons are mentioned in the next video. It indicates the word santon means saint, and apparently it is the French manner of expressing that village workers can all become saints.

French Christmas Carols

French Christmas Carols

Many familiar Christmas carols can be sung in French. I have listened to a few and the music is often familiar, but the words are not something I would recognize. One possibility to enjoy a French Christmas, or at least incorporate it as part of your own celebration, is to play French Christmas carols in the background while enjoying Christmas dinner, especially if you have the thirteen desserts and wine with the meal.

Waterford Silver Fleur de Lis Christmas Ornament

Waterford Silver 2014 Fleur de Lis Ornament
Waterford Silver 2014 Fleur de Lis Ornament

Another quality Christmas ornament will add a lot to your Christmas tree.


The Fleur De Lis

One of the most recognizable symbols of France is the Fleur de Lis, and inclusion of a Christmas Ornament in the shape of the Fleur de Lis adds a touch of France to your Christmas tree. These are easily found, and many different ones of various quality are present on Amazon. The one I have chosen to show is a quality piece from Waterford.


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    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 3 years ago

      Thank you. Because it is seasonal it is not currently getting much attention.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Wow, this is really a creative Christmas hub, Blackspaniel.

      It is unique and interesting!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 3 years ago

      I saw one image of the French Santa with a strange little hat. I like ours better, but I suppose it is what you remember from childhood.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      even france santa looks different, thinner and longer face than the round chubby santa