Friday, December 24, 2010

Feeling Alien in France at Christmas

by Expat Focus Columnist, Sharon Revol

The end of the year is a time for family and tradition for most people, but when you’re an Expat things are never quite the same. For one, not all Expats get to be around their family at this time of year and the feeling of loneliness can dampen the seasonal cheer, not to forget that sometimes the host countries traditions or religions are totally different to those that an Expat is used to, making you feel quite alien.

I have been living in France since I was 16 so have had plenty of time to get used to the French way of doing things at Christmas time, but still each year I spend Christmas here, I find myself longing for a Christmas with my family like it used to be back in England.

It isn’t so much that the French are very different in how they celebrate Christmas, of course they have Santa Claus and nativity plays, traditional meals and Christmas parties, but it is the little traditions from my childhood that are missing for me; no carol singers, not sending Christmas cards (the French send out cards to wish a Happy New Year in January), no mince pies, Christmas crackers or Christmas pudding.

But it’s of little surprise these traditions are uncommon here: A Christmas card is sold individually most of the time at a cost of 2 or 3 Euros as opposed to twenty for the same price back in the UK. Mince pies and Christmas pudding whilst delicious to me as a Brit, fall into the category of disgusting English food for most French people who try them and are never finish them, so hardly surprising that the shops don’t stock them.

However, Christmas in France is in no way lacking in tradition and is much less commercial than in the UK. You would never expect to start finding Christmas goodies in the shops at the end of September and Christmas lights do not get turned on until December ...

Read more about Christmas in France:

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