We do love our sweet foods at Christmas. I challenge any family to resist snaffling the giant sized tin of chocolates, bought for the Christmas season, long before it comes out for general consumption! And the French are no different. They have some lovely traditions involving sweets, for example, the making and displaying of papillotes, which are chocolates or candied fruits, wrapped in golden, sparking paper with fringed ends and a little good will note written and concealed inside. They are usually used to decorate the Christmas table and I suppose they are the French equivalent of Christmas crackers.
The season of advent is here and children across the world are opening their chocolate advent calendars to reveal their treat for the day.
There are so many delicious French sweet desserts eaten at Christmas, one of the most widely consumed across Europe is the yule tide log. Before it became a dessert, as far back as we know, log rituals have involved selecting, celebrating, burning, and then saving a piece of wood—sometimes an entire trunk, usually a log, but often just a small branch. The tradition can be traced back to the need for celebrating health and wealth—among the tribes of Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans, with whom the practice originated. People really put a lot of hope into one little log.
And so, leave it to the French to turn a tradition into an extremely tasty treat, typically served after Christmas dinner. The bûche de Noël is a sponge cake filled with mousse or buttercream, rolled up into a log shape, frosted in a bark-like way, quite often involving chocolate and decorated with marzipan or meringue mushrooms.
Prior to the Christmas Day feast….the anticipation of the arrival of Pere Noel, on Christmas Eve, it is traditional for French children to put their shoes near or in front of the fireplace, so that he can find them and fill them with small presents and treats.
Another Provençal French Christmas tradition worth mentioning, as it sounds so challenging – can you imagine having 13 desserts after the main Christmas meal? In France they are important as they symbolise Christ and the 12 apostles at the Last Supper. Typical desserts served for this purpose include fruits, nuts and sweets, such as dried figs, hazelnuts or walnuts, almonds and dried grapes or a cake called Pompe à l’huile. As part of this Christmas tradition, everyone has to taste each dessert, in order to bring good luck for the year ahead. There is nothing like over eating at Christmas! I think we are all partial to this tradition lol!
As we get ready to welcome our Christmas guests, please share with us any foods or treats we could include in our Gite Christmas welcome hampers. A very happy December to all!