Discovering French Christmas Traditions

Christmas is celebrated in many parts of the world, and France is no exception. While the French Christmas traditions might differ a bit from what you’re used to, they are just as unique and fascinating. So, let’s take a look at some of the most prominent French Christmas traditions.


Advent is the period four weeks before Christmas Day. In France, it is customary to set up Advent wreaths, complete with candles that are lit one by one on each of the four Sundays leading up to the big day. Some French families also create Advent calendars, which consist of a series of doors, each of which reveals a small toy or a chocolate.

Christmas Eve: Réveillon

In France, Christmas Eve is called Réveillon, and it is an elaborate dinner celebration that takes place late in the evening. The menu usually consists of multiple courses, including oysters, foie gras, roasted meat, and a variety of desserts. To accompany each course, French families often serve a different type of wine, making the evening truly indulgent.

The Yule Log

Another Christmas tradition in France is to make or buy a Yule Log or Bûche de Noël. This dessert, shaped like a log, is usually made of sponge cake rolled and iced with chocolate frosting, but it can also be made in different flavors such as coffee, chestnut, or hazelnut.

Père Noël

While Santa Claus is known around the world, in France, the gift-giving character is known as Père Noël or Father Christmas. Père Noël typically brings small gifts for children on Christmas Eve, and it is not uncommon for people to dress up as Père Noël for work, school, or festive events.


As you can see, French Christmas traditions are unique and interesting, featuring elaborate dinners, delicious desserts, and Advent preparations. Even though some of these customs might not be familiar to everyone, they show us how Christmas can be celebrated differently around the world. If you ever find yourself in France during the holiday season, make sure to taste the Yule log and join in the fun of Réveillon. Joyeux Noël!

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