In France, a Nativity cradle is often used to help decorate the house. French cribs have clay figures. During December, some towns and cities, such as Marseille, have fairs that sell figures of the Nativity.
In addition to having the normal figures of the Nativity in them, the French scenes also have figures like a Butcher, a Baker, a Policeman and a Priest.
In French Happy / Merry Christmas is ‘Joyeux Noël’. In Breton (spoken by some people in Brittany, northern France) it is ‘Nedeleg Laouen’, in Corsican it is ‘Bon Natale’ and in Alsatian (spoken by some people in Alsace, in eastern France) it is ‘E güeti Wïnâchte’ .
One of the largest Christmas markets in Europe is held in Strasbourg, in the northeast of France. In the Alsatian language it is called “Christkindelsmarik”.
Yule trunks made of cherry wood are often burned in French homes. The trunk is taken to the house on Christmas Eve and sprayed with red wine so that the log smells good when it is burning. There is a custom that the trunk and candles are burned all night with some food and drinks in case Mary and the baby Jesus pass during the night.
In France, Santa Claus / Santa Claus / Saint Nicholas is called Père Noël (Santa Claus). In the east of France he is accompanied by Le Pere Fouettard, a man dressed in black. He could be the same person as Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands.
The main Christmas meal, called Réveillon, is eaten on Christmas Eve / early Christmas morning after the people have returned from Church Service at midnight. Dishes can include roasted turkey with chestnuts or roasted goose, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and cheeses. For dessert, you usually eat a chocolate cake called bûche de Noël.
Another celebration, in some parts of France, is that 13 different desserts are eaten. All desserts are made of different types of fruits, nuts and cakes.
Epiphany, called Fête des Rois in French, is also celebrated in France on January 6. You eat a flat almond cake called ‘Galette des Rois’. The cake has a toy crown on the inside and is decorated on top with a golden paper crown.