Throughout November, the city workers were stringing white lights absolutely everywhere in centre-ville in preparation for December.
Darkness falls between 4:30 and 5:30 depending upon cloud cover. The festive, white lights make everything sparkly and traditional Christmas music plays from small speakers. These speakers are anchored to buildings throughout downtown. I hope the people who reside above them do not have to hear them in their homes. (On a happy note, it is not the Top 40 mix shoppers are subjected to in the US. This is more classical and traditional and not as loud. No Mariah Carey, George Michael, Jackson 5, etc. I will not be disappointed to never hear those songs ever again. Blech.)
The Christmas Market in Angers is smaller than in larger cities, but it is very beautiful and the aroma of mulled cider and baked goods fills the air. Children can visit Père Noël and whisper their gift wishes to him. There are promotions in small shops and big stores, but the real bargain sales will come in January.
The lights of the city and inside homes will remain illuminated through the end of January. This serves to lift spirits during the darkest days of winter. This differs from the Anglo superstition that leaving your decorations up after the new year brings bad luck. Exterior holiday lights on homes here are almost non-existent.
Advent calendars are a very popular thing here. They range from ones with chocolates to make up, ornaments, teas, coffees and other goodies.
The French are very careful about what they eat. Portions are small, spices are subdued and sugar is used sparingly, even in treats. During the holidays, there is chocolate everywhere and people indulge, but it is still quite restrained as compared to the US and Canada.
Christmas Eve (le réveillon de Noël) and Christmas Day are celebrated with family. Oysters, foie gras (goose liver pâté), and roasted birds (pheasant, goose, etc.) with chestnut stuffing are traditional offerings. The buche de Noel (Yule Log cake) must be ordered well in advance at the more popular patisseries.
New Year’s Eve (le réveillon du Nouvel an) is celebrated with friends.
Christmas cards are not a thing, but New Year’s cards are. It is acceptable to mail cards wishing recipients a joyous new year anytime throughout the month of January, but never in February.
Joyeuses Fêtes to you and yours.
The Soleils d’Hiver Christmas market in Angers
Video link: https://youtu.be/pnufsLDq3DE
And now, some photos…