Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Countdown to Christmas 2021 Midweek 3 - France

Around the World for Christmas – Wine and Cheese, Please

The custom in France around the holidays is to spend time with family and friends, which is so much the tradition throughout the world during this season. They wine, they dine, they sing and they worship together.

They don’t much care for decorating that tree, however. The French are more inclined to burn a Yule log rather than put up a tree, and even the Yule log is seeing a decline in use across the country. The southern parts of the country still hold on to the tradition of letting the log burn from Christmas Eve until New Years Day. The Yule log is a large hardwood log that is traditional in European countries.

French custom dictates that the almost every home have a Nativity scene as part of the decorations for the Christmas season. The Nativity is the center of the celebration for most families, and the figures that are included in the scene are generally handmade out of clay. The figures are known as “santons” and are created by craftsmen throughout the year. Christmas fairs find these figures for sale from a variety of craftsmen.

By © Guillaume Piolle, CC BY 3.0,

The figures are not necessarily of the Christ child and His family, but can include sheep, villagers, peasants and a goose or two. The favorite pastime is to arrange the figures in the Nativity scene.

Christmas Eve is the time when the children drop their shoes or clogs on the fireplace hearth. These shoes are called sabots, and they are a regular part of European footwear. They are a shoe with a band of leather across the tops, and they can be wood or leather. These shoes are the equivalent of the hanging of the stockings for the United States children.

Pere Noel is the one who will be filling those shoes for all the good children. Pere Noel travels with a crotchety old dude who goes by the name of Pere Fouettard who is quick to point out which ones of those little darlings were bad, bad, bad. Pssst – he is known as the Whipping Father….. It is unclear whether or not rotten children are yanked from their beds and severely beaten about the buttocks with a Nerf bat or not. That part of the legend is rather shrouded in mist….

If this depiction of Pere Fouettard is any indication, he has a whip. I’m just sayin’….

Blessed be the good children though; they will reap great rewards as Pere Noel heaps lots of gifts upon them, as well as nuts, fruits and small toys that he hangs about hearth. He carries his gifts on his back in a basket called a hotte. This basket closely resembles the grape baskets carried in the vineyards.

Adults wait until New Years Day to exchange their gifts.

The telling of the story of Christmas is celebrated throughout all the churches and cathedrals on Christmas Eve. After the services, people gather for a feast that has regional differences. Le reveillon, which means to reawake, is filled with menu items such as oysters and pat de foie gra in Paris, or goose in Alsace. This meal can be anything that is locally traditional, and it was traditionally celebrated by those returning from church services. The meal is now enjoyed all over the country regardless of whether or not someone has been to the Christmas Eve services. It no longer has to be a home cooked meal, but can be enjoyed in a restaurant as well.

The Christmas Log is a Yule log shaped cake that has been specially created for the Christmas meal. Those who celebrate the holiday with a grand feast will include a Christmas Log.

Looks pretty yummy to me.

After the dinner is served and before heading off to bed, the family will leave a fire burning and set out food and drink for the Virgin Mary, as is believed that she visits the homes on Christmas Eve.

I think you will find that it pays to be good in France, lest you be beaten silly by that crazy Pere Fouettard, and you may well find yourself with at least one of these wonderful gifts from the talented and lovely artisans behind these creations.

Bloodwood, Exotic Wood Oval Earrings


Red Heart on White Enamel Earrings, Handmade Valentine Jewelry

Victorian Style Treasures

Little Red Jingle Bell Earrings

The Singing Beader

Red and White Superduo Snakeskin Beadwoven Handmade Cuff Bracelet

Kats All That.

This bracelet is featured in the book The Joy of Jewelry Making.

Painted Saint Nick Enhancer Pendant


Santa Earrings, Red Clear Swarovski Crystals Christmas Holiday Jewelry

Shadow Dog Designs

Crocheted Santa Winter Booties Fur-Trimmed Newborn 0 3 mo


Christmas Santa Collectible Thimbles, Handmade Holiday

Blue Morning Expressions

Looking for something different?
Here are more links to additional beautiful, handmade gifts.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3


Ask any of the artists if you would like something special from their shops. Most do custom work, too.

Quick, everyone back in the sleigh.

We have a lot more stops to make on our journey around the world for Christmas, and I would not want you to miss the trip.

Julie and Harry