How to celebrate christmas in france

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Christmas in French in the middle of Muhldorf: This is how Mariann celebrates with her patchwork family

How to celebrate christmas in france

Christmas is the celebration of the family. Children look forward to the presents and those who no longer live at home set out for home. Sometimes it’s the only visit all year. Because the world has become bigger.

Many families live far apart and then the holidays are a good opportunity to get everyone together for once. "I moved to Muhldorf to Helmut eleven years ago at Christmas. So this is a Christmas story," Mariann Herold laughs as she begins to talk about her family’s Christmas celebrations. She comes from Paris and lives in Bavaria since then.

All the children of the patchwork family are now grown up and scattered everywhere. "Sometimes we see each other once a year, but not here at home. Christmas is the feast where everybody comes home." Mariann has kept many French traditions in Bavaria – especially at Christmas when her daughters come to visit.

Traditionally we celebrate a little differently

Her older daughter Philipine now lives and works in Paris. Her daughter Dove, who is half American, lives in Hanover and will be visiting family for the first time this year with her boyfriend. He comes from Palestine and mother Mariann is happy to have everyone together.

Your daughters come home every year for Christmas, where you then talk in German and French. A little bit different than usual in Bavaria is already celebrated. There are no cookies in the Herold family, and Christmas parties, like this one during Advent, are not common in France. For this purpose, on 31. January once again all together. But that is another story.

"Reveillon" fill the table

Christmas doesn’t start until Christmas Eve, really late, at nine or ten o’clock. Then a "late night meal" is brought to the table. In France it’s called a "reveillon" and served is seafood, boudin blanc, a kind of white sausage with apples, followed by cheese with salad and dessert – traditionally a "bûche de noel" at Herolds, known to us as a tree trunk.

Then the family attends the midnight mass in the small church of Mosslingen. "It was already like that in my family. And when the church is so beautifully decorated with the fir tree and the ornaments and everyone sings "Silent Night", that is very nice, very peaceful in this little church. That’s what I like there," says Mariann.

How to celebrate christmas in france

Christmas Day is the 25. December

Only the day after, on the 25th. December, is then really Christmas. "In France, it’s like that, even the 26. is not a holiday in France. The 25. is Christmas Day, which starts with the giving of presents in the morning, before breakfast," the Frenchwoman explains. The big Christmas lunch is served in courses, as is customary in France, not as a buffet where everything is served at the same time.

Mariann’s family is from Brittany, so the big Christmas dinner traditionally starts with seafood as well. As an aperitif there is of course champagne for the celebration. This is followed by a "Dinde aux Marrons", a turkey stuffed with chestnuts, again cheese, salad, cake and of course wine.

Europe is growing together

Mariann is not worried about everyone arriving home safe and sound. The whole family would travel a lot and nowadays the airplane is very safe. Everyone brings presents, and Mariann often asks her daughter Philipine for the typical French treats that are not available in Bavaria. It could be chocolate from "Pyreneen" in Paris, a CD from a local musician or "Marrons glaces", glazed chestnuts.

How to celebrate christmas in france

Mariann also passes on her love of France to others. Besides the French regulars’ table, which she organizes once a month, she is always looking for host families to take in exchange students from France for a few nights. Christmas is a good opportunity to contribute to international understanding, each in his own way.

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