Home   Calendar   Holidays   France   Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve in France

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

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:

  • Fish, such as pike, carp, or trout, foie gras, roast goose, cookies flavored with aniseed, cinnamon and almonds and cherry soup (Alsace).
  • Crepes (Brittany).
  • Seven meatless dishes (Provence).
  • Thirteen desserts consisting of 13 different types of fresh and dried fruit, nuts and traditional candy to symbolize Jesus and his 12 apostles (Provence).
  • Roast game or fowl served after midnight.
  • A selection of regional cheeses made from cow's, goat's or sheep's milk.
  • Special regional or rare wines.

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. 


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.


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
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

Quick Facts

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

Christmas Eve 2018

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


Name in other languages

La veille de NoëlFrench
Christmas EveEnglish

List of dates for other years

Related holidays

Other holidays in December 2018 in France

Fun Holiday on December 24, 2018

You might also like

Lunar Eclipse July 27-28

Lunar Eclipse July 27-28

This is also called a Blood Moon because the Moon usually takes on a dark red color. It is the longest one this century, will you be able to see it? more

The Hindu deity Rahu.

Solar Eclipse Myths

The solar eclipse has inspired many mythical stories and influenced human behavior. Even today, eclipses of the Sun are considered bad omens in many cultures. more

Watching Lunar Eclipses

A lunar eclipse can be seen with the naked eye, unlike solar eclipses, which have special safety requirements. more