Monday, 7 December 2015

Irish Christmas vs. French Christmas

Since I'll be spending my 13th Christmas in Ireland, I thought it would be funny to have a friendly "fight" between French and Irish ways of celebrating Christmas.

1- Decorations

To be fair, not all Irish houses are decorated as much as the one above, but Irish people are definitely tackier more creative with outside decorations than their French counterparts. My childminder had a giant inflatable Santa in her front garden last year, and every time my parents come for Christmas they are always amazed by the amount of decorations they see on houses.

I think when it comes to garlands, illuminated reindeer and giant Santa I'm still French and go by the motto: "Less is more"...

2- Music

The only French songs about Christmas are the ones that I learned as a child: the French version of Jingle Bells (Vive le vent), Petit Papa Noel or the odd religious one like Holy Night. French artists don't release Christmas songs, which is a pity because hearing them on the radio is my favourite part of the holiday season. And I cringed when I heard "Last Christmas" in the middle of July on a French radio...

Of course, my favourite will come as no surprise, it's "Fairytales of New-York"

3- Food

Both countries eat turkey, but I think the similarity ends there. I haven't converted to the mince pies yet, and  although I would eat a slice of Christmas pudding, I cannot resist the traditional French Christmas "log".
Christmas food differs according to the region you come from, and in Brittany, it's all about seafood for starter, with oysters and langoustines being the favourites. We usually have chicken or turkey as a main course, then we move on to salad and cheese platter, and finally dessert. And we stay at the table for hours.
I'm still very French when it comes to food,so I think France wins here...

4- Movies

Like music, it seems that French people are not the Christmas movies type either. The most famous one  is "Le pere noel est une ordure" (Santa Claus is a stinker), which is definitely worth a watch. Apart from this one, there is not much choice. Here, there's even a dedicated Christmas Movies TV channel, and it's my guilty pleasure...

I have many favourites so it's hard to pick one, but I think I'll have to go with "Love actually", because who doesn't like a bit of Hugh Grant? I also have to give a special mention to "The snowman", a beautiful magical story that I only discovered a few years ago.

There are a lot more small traditions I love in Ireland like Christmas crackers, or the fact that 26th of December is also a bank holiday. Getting an extra day off to recover from Christmas is not just brilliant, it's necessary. 
What I miss from a French Christmas is obviously my family, spending time around the table, eating and drinking and laughing... I have spent many great Christmas in Ireland with friends, but there is always a little something missing. And a phone call on Christmas day is just not the same.

In the end, it looks like it's a tie between Irish and French Christmas, and I do like both, in different ways. Next time I go to France in December I'll wear a Christmas jumper, bring some crackers and introduce everyone to Christmas songs. 
For this year, I will eat all the seafood I can get and drink Champagne on Christmas eve, the kids will put their slippers next to the tree, and leave water and carrots for the reindeer (no cookies and milk for Santa in France!).

And we will probably spend Christmas day like every year since we are in Ireland, with friends who are not going home either.