Holiday Traditions Around the World: Christmas in France
Christmas in France is both a religious and secular holiday as it is in most modern countries. In French, Christmas = Noël and is a reference to the Gospel. It comes from the French phrase “les bonnes nouvelles” which means “the good news”. L’Avent en France (Advent) commences the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Although the Christmas tree is not so popular, homes all throughout France display the Nativity scene “la crèche”. The creche is often coupled with figures called little saints or “santons” which represent the Holy Family, shepherds, Magi as well as local dignitaries and people in the community. The craftsmanship and molds utilized to create the santons have been passed down from generation to generation since the seventeenth century. Puppet shows leading up to Christmas are well attended particularly in Paris and Lyon. One of the most famous Christmas puppet plays is Bethlemen 1933 and is considered a masterpiece.