Ho ho ho! Christmas is here!
Because having fun is the whole point of Christmas, isn’t it?
Celebrating life, family gatherings, giving and receiving, watching John Lewis Christmas adverts, the Muppet Christmas Carols and Die Hard altogether. Don’t forget eating loaaaaads, drinking even more, and especially forgetting about everything that went wrong in the year.
All the lights, the sweet music, family time and good food… There is something about all this that brings us back to our childhood, a nostalgic feeling about being protected, loved and in peace. “Cwtch” feeling, as Welsh people would describe it. And that feeling is universal. We have German Christmas trees, American red Coca-Cola Santa Claus and the Christian Nativity scene, other people around the world have Diwali or Eid.
Christmas in France
In France, Christmas is not as different as in the UK. It generally starts one or two weeks after Halloween. You learn how to detect the early signs. When toy adverts and “Home Alone” starts to appear on telly and Christmas lights seem to pop up from nowhere around your city, you know you’re nearly there. One thing I have found surprisingly charming in the UK (apart from John Lewis Christmas adverts) is people’s obsession for Christmas cards. In France, we are losing this habit, and it’s a shame. Sending Christmas cards to your family and friends is such a great gesture to show them that you care. I will definitely do it this year!
I have also noticed that in the UK, the 24th of December is not as important as the 25th or the 26th. In France, we have a traditional dinner on the 24th evening. We celebrate Christmas on the 25th, but we do not celebrate Boxing Day. Back home, on Christmas eve, we usually have smoked salmon, shrimps, oysters, blinis with foie gras, terrine, cheese and for dessert, a frozen Christmas log or “bûche de Noël”.
Things are getting serious (and heavy) on Christmas day, with a hundred-course-never-ending meal. As a main course we usually have roast turkey with chestnuts stuffing (“dinde aux marrons”). Same as you Brits but with less gravy. For dessert, we usually have 13 desserts, typical of Provence area (south east of France, where I am from). The 13 desserts are supposed to represent Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. Despite all this, I must say I can’t wait to try UK’s very own traditional Christmas pudding and open my Christmas crackers, as we do not have any of this in France.