Christmas Eve in France 2024

Until Christmas Eve in France are 220 days, ie 7 months and 6 days.

In 2024 Christmas Eve in France is on December 24th (tuesday).

Since France is a secular country, Christmas Eve is not a day off from work.

Sapin de Noël - French starters

The French are proud of their traditions and customs. An important part of it forms the cuisine. The Christmas meal traditionally should last to midnight. Some French people start their dinner by drinking an aperitif. Usually, it is light sparkling wine or champagne with fruit syrup. When it comes to starters (fr. L'entrée), the goose liver pate, or foie gras, is the most commonly eaten. Other French delicacies are salmon and white pudding, prawns with avocado cream, snails and clams. Starters are often washed down with white wine.

Main courses for Christmas Eve dinner

Christmas supper in France is not meatless. The traditional main courses of the French Christmas Eve dinner are turkey or lobster. The tradition of serving turkey (Dinde de Noel) on Christmas comes from the XIX century. Oftentimes it is stuffed with chestnuts and served with fried potatoes. Oftentimes goose is chosen instead of the turkey, and consuming it also forms a part of the tradition. As for the lobster, it is relatively expensive and although it is traditionally served as a Christmas dish, it is reserved for richer households.

Christmas Eve fat and lean

In France, it was customary to eat two types of food: fat and lean. We ate the lean one before midnight mass, while the fatty one after returning. The first meal was more sparing and did not contain meat, while the second was meat and was accompanied by desserts. In places where the custom is cultivated, sometimes as many as thirteen desserts are served.

Thirteen French desserts

It is a Provencal custom to serve as many as 13 types of desserts (les treize desserts). They are supposed to symbolize the 12 apostles and Jesus. One of the most frequently served traditional desserts is La Buche de Noel (Christmas glade). It is a roulade filled with a creamy coffee-chocolate cream. It is decorated in such a way that it resembles a tree trunk. Another common leaf-shaped cake is called fougasse. The thirteen desserts include a variety of creams and cakes. Jelly, especially quince one, is also very popular.

Baubles - a French tradition

Decorating a Christmas tree is a satirical tradition related to celebrating Christmas. Before the era of Christmas balls, apples were hung on fir and spruce branches. In 1858 and right before the very holiday this article is written about, the French Vosges was hit by a drought, which resulted in a shortage of tasty fruit on the market. There was nothing to decorate the Christmas trees. But there was a remedy. An ingenious glassblower from the city of Goetzenbruck came to the rescue and suggested making apples from glass. This is how the well-known Christmas balls were born. The first of them was to directly imitate the missing fruits, so they were made red. As we know, the tradition gained extreme popularity.

Nativity scenes full of santons

A popular tradition in France is the display of crèches. This is not only done in public places such as churches or squares. Nativity scenes are also displayed in houses, most often near the Christmas tree. During the French Revolution, it was forbidden to display nativity scenes, but people found a way to circumvent the ban. Clay figurines were made to represent biblical figures. The figurines were called "santon", which means "little saints." Santon is also the name of a figurine that can be found in the dough eaten during the Epiphany festival. Finding a santon covered with a layer of cake is associated with the traditional fun associated with celebrating the holiday.

When do the French get gifts?

The French tend to give each other gifts on Christmas Eve, usually at midnight. This is also when the French exchange Christmas wishes. It is impossible for the French people who go to Midnight Mass to accept gifts at midnight. In this connection, another custom was also established. Gifts are accepted on the 25th of December and are believed to be brought by Santa Claus (whose French name is Pere Noel).

Other years

Day of the weekDateName of holiday
SaturdayDec 24th, 2022Christmas Eve in France 2022
SundayDec 24th, 2023Christmas Eve in France 2023
WednesdayDec 24th, 2025Christmas Eve in France 2025
ThursdayDec 24th, 2026Christmas Eve in France 2026
FridayDec 24th, 2027Christmas Eve in France 2027
SundayDec 24th, 2028Christmas Eve in France 2028
MondayDec 24th, 2029Christmas Eve in France 2029

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