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Christmas Traditions: France

Pére Nöel

Pére Nöel

Christmas traditions don’t just change from family to family, but depending on where these traditions were formed, they have a historical representation that might be much differently than you would think.

Pére Fouettard

Pére Fouettard

In Northern France, for instance, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th. Children left shoes out the evening before with the hopes that they would be filled with toys and sweets. St. Nicholas was accompanied by his helper, Pére Fouettard (Father Whipper), whose job it was to discipline the misbehavers.

In Alsace—the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area, and the smallest in metropolitan France—the gift giver was Christkindl (or Frau Berchta) who was similar to St. Lucia, identified by a crown of four lit candles and was accompanied by Hans Trapp, a scary character to discipline the disobedient children.

Pelznichol Leading Christkindl

Pelznichol (Belsnickel) Leading Christkindl

Since the 19th century, the main gift giver has been Pére Nöel who was accompanied by Pére Fouettard (bogyman).

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