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Posts Tagged ‘French Christmas traditions’

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The Santa Claus, as we know him today, is an American import created by immigrants of European origin. He crossed the ocean to conquer the Old World where Catholicism fought with Protestantism for Christmas symbols. The Father Christmas in these 19th century pictures is either a catholic bishop called Saint Nicholas or the fairy-tale figure of Père Noël, a mythical old man, probably of Scandinavian origins. These confusing, and sometimes fusing, figures have in common an abundant white beard. The Père Noël of old came in many colors, mostly in green and blue, before the red and white color combination became the standard look. In this Edwardian image, the blue Santa is already a minority:

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Vive Saint Nicolas or Joyeux Noël : Both translate as Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to Victorian Paris readers and see you next year!

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Related posts:

The Good News

The Réveillon: Christmas the French Way

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etrennes

In France, Christmas is called Noël. Noël means la bonne nouvelle or “the good news”. Of the visible signs of Christmas in the 19th century Paris, the Christmas tree was not a common sight, but no home was without a crèche, the Nativity scene.
On Christmas Eve, children left their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel. Adults received no gifts until the New Year’s Étrennes.

The Christmas log is now symbolized by “la bûche de Noël”, the unavoidable festive dessert

The Christmas log is now symbolized by “la bûche de Noël”, the unavoidable festive dessert

Evergreens, such as ivy and mistletoe, decorated the mantel piece and the dinner table readied for Le Réveillon, the after Midnight Mass feast. That’s right: the French have to wait until after midnight to celebrate Christmas with food. What food and how much of it (lots!) is described in The Réveillon: Christmas the French Way.

A Joyeux Noël to all!

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