Advent In France

Christmas is slowly knocking at our door, but there is a period of waiting and preparing for Christmas, called Advent. It lasts four weeks and starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. It represents the hope of Christmas when light conquers and expels darkness. Typically associated with Advent is a wreath - la couronne de l’Advent - with four candles on it, each of them being lit every Sunday. When you have all four of the candles lit, it means only one thing - Merry Christmas! Each candle has a meaning too: first one symbolizes forgiveness, second faith, third rejoice, and fourth justice and peace.

Another typical Advent feature is an Advent calendar. Normally, an Advent calendar would have 24 small windows hiding a piece of chocolate or a candy. Starting December 1, kids all around France (but many parts of the world, too) open their little windows each day and finish on December 24 - Christmas Eve. If you ever did this as a kid, you know how challenging it can be not to open all the windows and eat all the chocolate during the first week. Or worse, you might have had an older sibling, who saved his chocolates and ate yours instead (I know the feeling). 

However, there’s a quite an unusual Advent calendar going on in France with 24 sites in Alsace-Lorraine, but other parts of France too, to discover during this period of year. In its many regions, French take the occasion of Advent to hold various events and celebration. In Lyon, Fête des Lumières - Festival of Lights, has over the years become the biggest event in town, when its monuments, hills and river banks are illuminated with beautiful visualizations for four days.

In Paris, Champs-Elysées Avenue is lit up at the beginning of the Advent, and shops are getting full with Christmas presents shoppers. In Lorraine, Alsace and in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, another typical European holiday is celebrated on December 6 with big shows, street parades and fireworks: Saint Nicolas , who’s basically European Santa Claus, bringing children gifts, mainly sweets and fruits. The beginning of Christmas and Advent period in Provence is marked by Sainte Barbe on December 4, known also as Calendale, meaning Christmas. Also, traditional Christmas celebrations in Provence take 2 months! Now, are you ready to get your chocolate calendar? But no cheating - one chocolate a day! 

Article by 
Dominika - Thank you very much for your contribution!

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