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Christmas festivities in France as seen by two young foreign students

Bojana, Hungarian, and Michelle, German, arrived in September 2017 to continue their education during an academic year program in France.  During the Christmas holidays they stayed in France with their respective host families.  They talk to us about this time away from their families and their home countries.

*Bojana had a wonderful holiday and though far away was even able to share her Hungarian traditions.  Here is her testimonial: “For Christmas we went to the grand-parents’ home (the parents of my host mother).  The house was beautifully decorated and we ate many dishes that are traditionally eaten at Christmas in France: foie gras, langoustine, magret de canard and we even ate snails!
I was in touch with my family in Hungary before Christmas to respect a tradition we have in my country: we place a crown with 4 candles in the house and on each Sunday before the 24 December we light one of the candles.  At that time all the close family get together around the crown to eat cakes, drink tea and talk, play music, look at photos,… everyone has their different habit but it is always a moment shared by the whole family.  These moments represent the waiting for the Holy Night.  It’s more of a religious tradition even though we are not believers, but in Hungary almost all families follow this tradition. You will even see crowns in Hungarian shops, whilst in France there are very few.  So my family called me evey Sunday so that I could share that moment with them.
In France I was well looked after during the celebrations and therefore I wasn’t sad and it went really well, just a little nostalgia but then that’s normal.
I have a friend whose parents came to spend Christmas with her in France and when they left it was really hard for her; she cried for 3 days.
Then on the 28 December I went to spend a week with some friends who live in Elancourt near Paris.  When I was little I lived there, we were neighbours, and I haven’t seen them since 2008, so it was lovely for us to get together again!  They had decorated their house and for New Year’s Eve they invited their cousins, neighbours and friends and we had a big party and once again ate so much!  It’s simple, for a week after that I couldn’t eat a thing!
I really had a great holiday!”


* Michelle also said she had “a wonderful Christmas with many differences between Christmas in France and in Germany.

She looks back at those few days: “On Christmas Eve the family arranged all the presents under the Christmas tree; there were so many!   On Christmas Day we got up at 7.00 in the morning to open the presents.  It was a unique experience because in Germany we open our presents in the evening on Christmas Eve.  After we had opened all the presents we spent some time together and at midday we had a lovely big meal.  Christmas lunch is very important in France which is why we spent several hours at the table.  I even tried snails and I liked them.  We talked a lot and in the afternoon we played cards.
I really enjoyed Christmas in France and it was a unique experience; however I prefer celebrating Christmas in Germany because I spend several days with my family and I like it that we exchange presents on Christmas Eve after Church.  In France I feel that greater importance is given to the gifts and the meals.
On the other hand, it was not a problem for me to be separated from my family in Germany because I had the opportunity of ringing them during the holidays.
Then for New Year’s Eve we went to Scotland, it was great!  We spent a wonderful week in Glasgow.  My eldest host brother is doing a World tour at the moment and that’s why we spent some lovely moments with him.  We visited other cities, for example Edinburgh and Stirling.  We visited castles, did some shopping and we were also next to the largest lake in Scotland – it was fantastic!

 A big thank you to Bojana and Michelle for sharing their experiences!

Noël en France