Christmas in France: la nuit de Noël

Salut c’est Géraldine, bienvenue sur Comme
une Française TV, Sound French, even to the French! We’ve been waiting for this night for a
whole month, and now it’s here. Christmas Eve! The 24th of December! The tree is ready, candles are glowing, the
dinner table is full, churches are waiting for the miracle in a manger, and le père
Noël is already on his sled ready for his worldwide tour. What are French people doing on this silent
night, holy night? Let’s dive in ! Le réveillon
Le réveillon (de Noël) is Christmas Eve, also called la nuit de Noël, Christmas night. It’s close to le réveillon du nouvel an,
New Year’s Eve. However, while New Year’s Eve is a time
to party with friends, Christmas Eve takes place around le repas de Noël, Christmas
dinner, with la famille, your family. In the living room, you’ll find le sapin
de Noël, the Christmas tree, sometimes under the lights of les bougies, the candles, on
the table. And children will be making frequent looks
at la cheminée, the chimney, when there is one. Although this scene takes place on the evening
of the 24th, Christmas itself happens on the day of the 25th of December, which is in France
un jour férié, a bank holiday. That’s why everyone is allowed to have a
later bedtime than usual! Lunch on the 25th is also a traditional time
for a family lunch, un repas de famille, but by then it’s too late to sing the carol:
Ô douce nuit (ô sainte nuit), the French version of Silent night. Le repas de Noël, the Christmas dinner, is the occasion to eat great food and delicacies
together. In school and professional settings, the cafeteria
or la cantine, the canteen, will often serve their own Christmas menu with special dishes–but
the real dinner happens on the 24th. Traditional starters are les huîtres (une
huître), oysters. You might also taste le foie gras, a famous
delicacy in French cuisine, or le saumon fumé, smoked salmon, especially on toasted bread. Miam ! Yummy! Le plat principal, the main dish, is usually
la dinde aux marrons, stuffed turkey cooked with chestnuts, or alternatively le chapon,
a capon. We eat until we’re as stuffed as the bird,
then we move on to the dessert: la bûche de Noël, literally “the Christmas log”. It’s a cake that looks like a log, often
with Christmas decorations such as little elves on top. The tradition dates back to a pre-Christian
pagan custom, that survived throughout centuries, especially in Southern France. People used to put a giant log in their chimney,
and it had to burn for several days, as a superstition pour porter chance, to bring
good luck. Since the XIXth century and the progressive
disappearance of chimneys, this custom has switched to eating a log-shaped cake. Still, in la Provence, an area in the French
South, another tradition emerged: les treize dessert thirteen desserts to end Christmas
dinner. So if you’re ever invited to a traditional
French family dinner, there is one sentence you need to understand: Vous reprendrez bien
un peu de bûche ? You’ll take some more cake, won’t you? Nod, say yes and thank you, and enjoy! Les cadeaux de Noël are Christmas presents. They can be given during the dinner, but they
usually they appear sous le sapin / au pied du sapin, under the Christmas tree, the morning
after, brought by le père Noël, Santa Claus. Some of you might need to help him, though;
that’s when you have to faire un paquet cadeau / emballer un cadeau, to wrap a gift,
with du papier cadeau, gift wrap. Quickly, this wrap will end up all tornteared
up, to find the traditional surprise: un jouet, a toy, un livre, a book, une cravate, a tie,
un parfum, some perfume, des chaussettes, socks, un yacht, a yacht… well, if you have
enough gift wrap anyway. As we say, plaisir d’offrir, joie de recevoir:
giving is as enjoyable as receiving. A few days laters, in the beginning of January,
tradition says that we give a small gift or a small amount of money to the people we employ,
for example un(e) concierge, the caretaker or une femme de ménage, a cleaning lady. These New Year’s gifts are called les étrennes. L’hiver, winter, is still here after these heavy meals and these few days of celebration. You can now enjoy the gifts you got, make
plans for your New Year’s Eve or go outside and play in the snow. If you can, share in une bataille de boules
de neige, a snowball fight, or go build un bonhomme de neige, a snowman! Check out les stations de sports d’hiver,
winter sports resort, in the mountains, and find out if it’s cold enough pour aller
skier, to go skiing. You could try la luge, sledding, or la randonnée
en raquettes, snowshoeing. But whatever your activities, you can always
enjoy another traditional dinner in French winter afterwards: la raclette / la tartiflette
a heavy cheese-and-potato-based dinner for several people at once. It’s hard to describe… but here they are
! Et toi ? What do you eat for Christmas dinner? Which presents are you giving this year? How are you going to spend the season? Tell me in the comments section, I want to
hear from you! If you’re on Youtube, you’ll find a link
below this video to the blog CommeUneFranç on the site I read all the comments and answer
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sound French, even to the French. Allez, salut !

23 thoughts on “Christmas in France: la nuit de Noël”

  1. j'écoute ta chaîne pour voir les différences entre nous autres icitte au Canada. .le pays des bûcherons lol et pourquoi pas j'aime beaucoup tes vidéos 😊

  2. We have a vegan feast: olive and pine nut tapenade with fancy crackers, cherry tomatoes and champagne to start, then a seitan roast stuffed with shallots and mushrooms, veg lasagna or spinach torte, green beans in creamy mushroom sauce, homemade bread, and some wine. For dessert: clementines, homemade cookies, truffles, and either a chocolate or cranberry bouche de Noël, with coffee and apple-chestnut brandy. Yum!

  3. On aime jambon avec haricots vert et pommes de terre rôties (Fait avec beaucoup de beurre, naturellement). Et, bien sûr, la fin du repas signifie que les biscuits de Noël sont arrivés! Cher Geraldine, j'espère que vous et votre famille auront une belle saison de Noël. Allez, Salut!

  4. In the Cayman Islands we eat ham, turkey, local beef, turtle, (yes turtle), conch, welks, rice and beans cooked with coconut milk, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and a traditional dessert which is a very sweet and sticky cake made with cassava. We eat this on the 25th with family and then we sit around in a food coma and enjoy each other's company. We usually cook way too much and eat leftovers the next day!

  5. Sault Madame , Maintenant, j'ai 56 ans et pour moi mon œil gauche 80 pour cent ne regarde pas. Donc je travaille deux heures de travail seulement. Cette fois-ci seulement Je n'ai pas célébré notre Noël et Nouvel An parce que nous n'avons pas d'argent parce caf ne donnant pas rsa ou prime de activé . DIEU sait quelle est la raison de cette vérité. Que puis-je faire. S'il vous plaît priez pour nous.

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