As Christmas carols begin to ring out wherever you go, as decorations and lights cover every window and facade, as classic movies are replayed on every channel, there’s no doubt about it: Christmas is coming.
Since Mariah Carey flooded the world with her hit “All I want for Christmas is You” just 10 years ago, it’s true that Christmas is blowing a similar atmosphere all over the globe.
But still, each country has its own traditions, and this is even more true as the holidays approach. So that you don’t make any mistakes when talking to your classmates (whether they still believe in Santa Claus or not) we decided to tell you about these little things that make Christmas in France.
Decorating at Christmas is an obsession.
Whether it is in the cities with the facades of the town halls decorated, the setting up of gigantic trees on the big squares, the illumination of the streets – or even – in the houses, the Christmas spirit goes through a lot of decoration.
In fact, most students, even those living alone, make sure to bring in the magic of the holidays by decorating their rooms or studios with Christmas colours.
The advent calendar: “le calendrier de l’avent”
Yes yes, it is spelled with an E and not an A because this word of Latin origin does not mean the period before Christmas (avant) but refers to the event (adventus) namely the advent of Christ.
This calendar, aimed rather at children (but who said that a student was no longer a child?), allows you to wait until Christmas Day by opening each evening of December a small box, revealing a pretty picture or more often, a chocolate candy.
It is the annual family meal par excellence. This dinner is the occasion to “put the little dishes in the big ones”, to allow oneself all the dishes – even the most expensive ones (foie gras, smoked salmon, stuffed turkey…), and then, let’s admit it, to make excesses without feeling too guilty.
In France, it is during the night of December 24th to 25th that Santa Claus delivers the gifts to the foot of the tree, most often through the fireplace, if the house is equipped with one. Otherwise, the fertile imagination of the youngest easily finds alternative ways. It is perhaps the only evening of the year during which children are eager to go to sleep, taking care beforehand to leave some sweets (chocolate papillotes and other clementines) at the foot of the tree to reward Santa for his generosity and efforts.
Some children add “their little shoes” to indicate their presence to Santa Claus. A small nod to a monument of French culture with the song “Petit Papa Noël” to which Tino Rossi implores not to forget his little shoe … Written a little before the song of Mariah Carey on the same theme in 1946, this song, known to all French children (and former children) embodies the spirit of Christmas in France.
Since a few years, a new tradition, originating from Anglo-Saxon countries, has also made its place in France: the Secret Santa. In this case, members of the same group (colleagues, classmates for example) give each other gifts at random. The only rule is often to respect a small budget defined together beforehand. You can decide to reveal the identity of Santa Claus or not, to draw the recipients in advance or not – in short, all scenarios are possible and often the occasion of great laughter. Why not introduce the idea to your group of friends?
Well, we are already looking forward to it! And if you are far from your family during this holiday, you could also take the opportunity to travel a little. If each country has its own traditions for Christmas, in France, each region has its own specificities that you can enjoy. Marvel at the illuminated and animated windows of the department stores in Paris, breathe in the scent of chocolate, cinnamon and mulled wine on the Christmas markets of Alsace, discover incredible cribs in Provence with their famous little santons, slide on the snow like Santa’s sleigh in a ski resort in the Alps…
And as always, our extended FIGS Education family is here to listen to you and support you. Do not hesitate to come and see us or to contact us.
Happy holiday season to all of you.