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So who does Christmas better? French vs Anglos

The Local · 23 Dec 2015, 09:35

Published: 23 Dec 2015 09:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Dec 2015 09:35 GMT+01:00

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The decorations

Photo: Joey Tripp/Filckr 

In Anglo countries, some people go more than a little overboard on Christmas decorations and turn their whole property into a winter wonderland, with life-sized reindeers, glowing snowmen and Christmas trees.

In France, public places are decorated but in their own homes the French usually keep it simple. We've sided with the Frenchies on this one. Decorating the town square is quite enough and there’s no need to annoy your neighbours with a crazy light show every night. 1-0 to the French.

The meal

Photo: Josh McGinn/Flickr

Christmas is all about delicious food but who cooks up the better feast? Traditionally, the French have a late meal on Christmas Eve called Réveillon, featuring a vast array of fancy treats including oysters and other sea food delicacies, and foie gras of course. And perhaps turkey.

This is a tough one, and as much as we think seafood has no place on a plate at any time over Christmas, the idea of big meal on Christmas Eve sounds fun compared to the usual midday mountain of meat and veg that is served up on Christmas Day in the UK. 2-0 to the French.

The dessert

Photo: Distopiandreamgirl/Flickr

When you compare the dark stodgy blob that is the British Christmas pudding to France’s chocolate covered yummy-looking Bûche de Noël (Yule log cake) there’s no doubt who should take home the title for the tastiest Christmas dessert. But then we've never seen a Christmas log set alight with brandy before. Given that most of the time no one has any room for dessert anyway, we'll say both countries lose on this point. Still 2-0 to the French.

The booze

Photo: Edwin Land/Flickr

For most, Christmas is just as much about getting sozzled with old friends and family as it is about eating or opening presents or even going to church! But who’s better at celebrating, the French or the Anglos?

It’s hard to judge, but one thing we do know is that booze can turn even the lamest gathering into a fun event. The moderate French drinkers are going to have to step aside, the Anglos win this round. There's no better place to be on Christmas Eve than the pub. 2-1 to the Frenchies.

Tree or nativity scene?

Photo: tlwilsonii/Flickr

The Christmas tree is a must-have in most Anglo households. Whether real or artificial, it’ll definitely make you and your guests feel festive. Many French families prefer putting up nativity scenes in their homes or they opt for a Christmassy looking wreath. To be fair, who would want to lug a tree up six floors in Paris apartments? Nevertheless, sorry our Gallic friends. Christmas without a tree is just not Christmas. That makes it 2-2.

The presents

Photo: Nikolaj Potanin/Flickr

When it comes to Christmas shopping the French don't go as bananas as their Anglo cousins. In France the motto is "quality not quantity," and people will shop in the traditional Christmas markets as much as in the deluxe stores. As a result, they don't waste millions on crap presents that get stuck in the loft or put on eBay once the turkey has been digested. OK, it's not so good for the economy but scaling down the gift mania might not be such a bad idea, so we’ll side with the French on this one. So it's 3-2 to the French.

Secular vs non-secular 

Photo: Peter C/Flickr

Because of France’s secular approach to education, French kids don't get to hear the famed Christmas story year after year, let alone get the chance to be a shepherd, angel or even an ass in the annual school nativity play.

French kids are also deprived of the chance of singing Christmas carols such as Away in a Manger and Silent Night. Granted, not all Anglo schools do the nativity story these days but come on France - it's Christmas, and it wouldn't happen if it weren't for Baby Jesus.

Plus every year there's the same old hullabaloo in France about whether Town Hall's in France can have a nativity scene or not. Officially they are banned although some mayors go against the rule.

That will be 3-3 then.

Boxing Day

Compania Piwowarska/Flickr

The French may have a bunch of public holidays but they don’t get a day off on December 26th (Boxing Day), which the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries do.

Story continues below…

The two-day holiday means Anglos can unwind at home after the big celebrations but many French people have to head back to work the day after Christmas. Horrendous. And if the 25th falls on a weekend, the French don't even get an extra day's holiday. It's not even up for debate who wins this round. 4-3 to the Anglos.

The cards

Photo: Anne/Flickr

Sending Christmas cards is popular in many Anglo countries but it’s not a common custom in France. While it’s nice to get a hand-written card in the mail, many people just send them out because it's considered a social faux-pas if you don't. In the days of texting, Facebook, carrier pigeons, there's clearly no need to send Christmas cards. 

Plus, since 1962, France has had a law that stipulates any letter to Santa must be responded to in the form of a postcard. This is a much better way for postmen to spend their time than delivering soulless Christmas cards. It's all level at 4-4.

The sales

Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

The day after Christmas, hordes of Brits storm the shops early in the morning for the Boxing Day sales. However, shop owners marking down prices on a day that should be reserved for nursing your hangover doesn’t seem like the most sensible idea. The French definitely have this one figured out with their sales starting in January after everybody has recovered from the festivities. 

So there you have it. The Frenchies win 5-4. Vive Noel!

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