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Christmas Eve in France

Quick Facts

Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas Day and is an important occasion for many French families.

Local names

NameLanguage
La veille de NoëlFrench
Christmas EveEnglish
HeiligabendGerman

Christmas Eve 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015
List of dates for other years

Many people finish work early on Christmas Eve (Réveillon). Many spend the rest of the afternoon and evening preparing a festive meal and visiting a special church service.

Christmas Tree in front of Notre Dame Cathedral

Decorative Christmas trees are seen in many parts of France during Christmas Eve.

©iStockphoto.com/VFKA

What do people do?

Many people work during some part of Christmas Eve but finish work early. They spend the rest of the day with family members or close friends. People traditionally decorate their homes and prepare a celebratory meal. This meal consists of different dishes in different areas of France.

Meals include:


Many people attend a special evening church service. They return home afterwards, may eat a meat-based meal, and open Christmas presents. Children are told that Pere Noël or the Christ Child brings the presents.

Public life

Christmas Eve is not a public holiday so many businesses and organizations are open. However, many organizations close early to allow their staff to spend the late afternoon and evening with family members. There may be some congestion on highways and at train stations and airports, as people travel to spend the Christmas period with family members. It is advisable to book tickets for travel on December 24 well in advance. 

Background

Christmas Eve has been an important holiday for French families for hundreds of years. The traditions of eating a large meal with family members, decorating homes with evergreen plants and lighting fires originated before the introduction of Christianity to France.

Symbols

Logs are a symbol of the Christmas and New Year period in France. People traditionally poured wine over a large log and set it on fire on Christmas Eve. The log was then allowed to burn slowly over the next few days. Remnants of the log were saved as good luck charms and burnt the next year on Christmas Eve. Now many people eat a bûche de Noël (a log shaped dessert made of sponge cake or ice cream) on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve to remind them of this tradition.

About Christmas Eve in other countries

Read more about Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday type
MonDec 241990Christmas EveObservance
TueDec 241991Christmas EveObservance
ThuDec 241992Christmas EveObservance
FriDec 241993Christmas EveObservance
SatDec 241994Christmas EveObservance
SunDec 241995Christmas EveObservance
TueDec 241996Christmas EveObservance
WedDec 241997Christmas EveObservance
ThuDec 241998Christmas EveObservance
FriDec 241999Christmas EveObservance
SunDec 242000Christmas EveObservance
MonDec 242001Christmas EveObservance
TueDec 242002Christmas EveObservance
WedDec 242003Christmas EveObservance
FriDec 242004Christmas EveObservance
SatDec 242005Christmas EveObservance
SunDec 242006Christmas EveObservance
MonDec 242007Christmas EveObservance
WedDec 242008Christmas EveObservance
ThuDec 242009Christmas EveObservance
FriDec 242010Christmas EveObservance
SatDec 242011Christmas EveObservance
MonDec 242012Christmas EveObservance
TueDec 242013Christmas EveObservance
WedDec 242014Christmas EveObservance
ThuDec 242015Christmas EveObservance
SatDec 242016Christmas EveObservance
SunDec 242017Christmas EveObservance
MonDec 242018Christmas EveObservance
TueDec 242019Christmas EveObservance
ThuDec 242020Christmas EveObservance

Related holidays

Other holidays in December 2014 in France

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