We are D-7 before Christmas! In 7 days, millions of people will celebrate Christmas, but not everyone will celebrate Christmas in the same way.
We each have our own traditions or habits with our family or friends, but there are also regional Christmas traditions. In some regions of France, we will have a particular custom at Christmas, often old, but which is now part of the folklore of the region.
Would you like to see some of them today? Yes! That's what I've planned. We're going to see 5 regional Christmas traditions in France.
The Normandy log :
I take you to Normandy. A magnificent region, very appreciated by the tourists. We find there in particular the Mont-Saint-Michel.
In Normandy, we have a Christmas tradition called "la bûche de Normandie".
So, no, we are not going to talk about this delicious Christmas dessert, which is also called a log (a Yule log). We are really going to talk about a log.
In Normandy, on Christmas Eve, the Norman family will put a big log in the fireplace. The eldest of the family will also put the ashes of the last Christmas log, the log that burned during the same ritual last year.
While the log is burning, the children are asked to step away from the room and pray that the log will bring them gifts. Meanwhile, the family takes the opportunity to hide the gifts at the foot of the fireplace. The children can then discover their gifts.
Once the log is burned, the family saves the ashes for next year's Christmas.
Christmas fires in Gironde :
Let's go now to Gironde, near the Atlantic Ocean.
In Gironde, on the night of December 24 to 25, it's customary to light large fires in the center of villages.
This time, we will not use logs, but straw.
This tradition is called "Halha de Nadau".
Afterwards, families take torches and walk around their fields reciting incantations to protect their crops and ensure future harvests.
The Saint-Nicolas :
I will take you to several destinations: Alsace, Lorraine, the Ardennes, Hauts-de-France, Franche-Comté, Switzerland and Belgium.
In these regions and countries, Saint Nicholas is celebrated. Saint Nicholas is not celebrated at the end of December, but at the beginning of December, on December 6.
St. Nicholas is a character based on a legend that is somewhat similar to Santa Claus. It is even said that he is the ancestor of Santa Claus.
On December 6, Saint-Nicolas passes through the streets and distributes small gifts and sweets to children.
He is accompanied by the "Père Fouettard" who punishes the children if they are not good.
The santons of Provence :
We head south and we go to Provence. A very famous tradition: the santons of Provence.
A santon which comes from the Provencal "santoun", which means "small saint".
These are small figurines that will be used to constitute the Christmas crèche. We find typical characters of the Provencal villages: the fisherman, the baker, the salesmen of all kinds, the farmers, etc.
You can find hundreds of santon workshops in Provence.
It's very popular, and the santons are entirely part of the traditional culture of Provence.
Burgundy snails :
I take you to my native region: Burgundy.
It's a region very famous for its wines and also for its snails.
It is popular in Burgundy to eat snails. Yes, I know, you probably find it disgusting.
So, you don't eat snails every day in Burgundy. It is often reserved for special occasions.
It is then common to eat as an appetizer during the Christmas meal, a dozen snails with parsley.
If you're wondering, yes, of course, I've eaten them. Honestly, it's not bad. Actually, what is good is the parsley sauce.