6 French Christmas Traditions Part 2
December 24, 2014
It’s getting late as we approach midnight on this Christmas Eve. We have already witnessed the beautiful Christmas tree decorations, eaten a delicious traditional meal and opened all the gifts. But where did the gifts come from anyways? Santa Claus, obviously. But who is this bearded character? We have discovered 3 of the 6 French Christmas traditions in Part 1, let us now take a look at the last 3:
You can say that Santa is a pretty mysterious guy:
Birth Date: Unknown
Birth Place: Unknown
Origins: Santa Claus (which comes from the word Sinterklaas – Saint Nicolas – in Dutch) is a mix of the Viking God Odin and Julenisse, a Scandinavian elf, both of whom gave out gifts to children during winter. Julenisse is portrayed with a great white beard, a hat and red and white clothing. Pretty close to Santa Claus, no? The image we have today of “Père Noël” though arrived in 1947 with the Marshall Plan and especially Coca Cola, who empowered the image, but did not create it.
Current Address: For most Europeans, Santa Claus lives in Lapland, close to the North Pole. But since our Marketing Director is Canadian we must note that Santa Claus has been officially awarded Canadian citizenship and letters can be sent to him in Canada using this address: North Pole, H0H0H0, Canada. “Ho! Ho! Ho!”…hmmm, that sounds familiar!
And what would you say if I played you some Christmas tunes?
Christmas songs have been being sung since the Middle Ages, where people would gather in public theaters on Christmas Eve to watch small plays called “mysteries of the Nativity,” usually full of lively songs. Today, classic Christmas tunes are constantly covered by many international artists. Here is a list of the most famous Christmas songs in France, where they were composed and when:
- Jingle Bells (Vive le Vent d’Hiver), USA, 1857
- Christmas tree (Mon Beau Sapin), Germany, 1824
- Silent Night (Douce Nuit), Germany, 1816
- Il est né le divin enfant (“The Holy Child Was Born”), France, 1917
- Petit Papa Noël (“Small Father Christmas”), France, 1948
It’s close to midnight… make way for the real Christmas songs. Let us all go to our final French Christmas tradition: the midnight mass.
The midnight mass has two characteristics: First of all, theoretically, it starts at midnight, although some small churches celebrate it between 6pm and 10pm on December 24th. Secondly, it’s a huge success as many non-active Christians attend the mass! The Midnight Mass is the second of the 4 masses celebrating the birth of Jesus. In the middle of the night, we celebrate the passage from darkness to light.
It’s now 1am, quickly, it’s time for bed… luckily, we will be able to sleep in tomorrow morning! Merry Christmas!