Christmas in France
by Christine Gorman, Judie Haynes
"Joyeux Noel" to all of you who want to learn more about Christmas in France. This lesson can be taught in an ESL, mainstream or World language classroom.
Instead of teaching an "Around the World" unit about light festivals or Christmas, you may want to feature this in-depth lesson about Christmas in France. This lesson can be used for an ESL, mainstream, or a world language class.
- While Christmas trees have become fashionable in France, la creche (the manger) is a major Christmas holiday decoration. People pass their "santons" (manger figures) down through the generations. There are santons representing not only the wise men and the holy family but local merchants also.
- Explain to your students that French children put their shoes by the fireplace on Christmas Eve in hopes that "Pere Noel" (Santa Claus) will bring them some toys. Pere Noel is tall and thin. He has a long red robe trimmed with fur. He brings toys to children in a sack Download our PDF Pere Noel picture.
- On Christmas Eve everyone eats a huge dinner called "Le Reveillon." After this large dinner of goose, turkey, chicken, or beef; a fish dish, cheese, bread, wine, and fruit, many families serve a "Buche de Noel." The Buche de Noel is a sponge cake decorated like a yule log. Some families burn a real log in the fireplace. Download our PDF Yule Log. Students can make a replica of a"Buche de Noel." See Make a Buche de Noel.
- French families think that mistletoe is also lucky and hang it everywhere. Have students write a wish for the New Year on an index card and attach it to the downloaded Mistletoe picture.
- Teach your students how to say “Joyeux Noel” (Merry Christmas) and “Bonne Annee” (Happy New Year) to each other. Happy Hannakkuh is “Joyeux Hannakuh.” Have students practice in groups.
- Teach your students to sing "Jingle Bells" in French. Here are the words:
Tintez Cloches, Tintez Cloches (Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells)
Tintez dans la nuit (Ring in the night)
Pere Noel et ses grand daims (Santa Claus and his big reindeer)
Arrivent toute de suite..ite (Are coming soon)
La Fete des Rois(Feast of the Magi)
This is a children’s holiday. A butter “galette” (cake) is baked and a “feve” (favor) is placed inside. The galette is cut into pieces and the child who finds the “feve” is “roi” (king) or “reine” (queen) for the day. That child receives a “couronne.” (crown) The other children say “Vive le roi (ou reine)!
You can buy a cake and put a bean in it to use as a favor. Or bake a cake using a mix. Keep track of where the favor is so that you are sure it has been served.
1.Teach students “J’aime la galette” in the following way:
J’aime la galette (walk in a circle holding hands to the right)
Savez vous comment? (change directions - go left)
Quand elle est bien faite (go right)
Avec le buerre dedans (go left)
Tra la la la la (hands over head, walk in )
Tra la la la la (step back to place in circle)
2.Cut the galette and give to students. Instruct them to wait.
3. Everyone must eat carefully and at the same time. Teach students to say “Miam” Miam” (yum, yum) When a student finds it , they must say “le voici.”
4. Crown the king or queen. Students say “Vive la roi or la reine”
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