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French Country Marché​

French Customs, Traditions, and Décor 

An ongoing series of informational entries

My Latest Blog Entry

December, 2020


    Festival of Lights in Lyon

     December 2, 2020

            While the Irish celebrate December 8th as a Holy Day of Obligation to honor the Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the French honor the Virgin Mary – la Vierge Marie in Lyon at the height of the Festival of Lights which takes place on December 6-9 every year.

          The Festival of Lights began in 1643 in Lyon, France, when it was struck by the plague. Many high officials in Lyon that year promised God a special tribute to the Virgin Mary if the town was spared. People in Lyon to this day, go on a procession on December 8 to the Basilica of Fourvière to light candles and make offerings in the name of the Virgin Mary.

          The Festival of Lights in Lyon takes place from December 6-9 each year. In addition to the three-day festival, people throughout Lyon also place candles outside on their windowsills to add to the illumination of the festival. The entire city is illuminated with projections of light and sound on buildings, on monuments, and on the city squares with musical and theatrical performances throughout the city.  

          This is an event not to be missed.

Noël en France

November 16, 2020

     Christmas in France is a magical time, when children have great expectations of finding treats in their shoes the morning of December 6. This is the day the month-long Christmas celebration begins in many parts of France. On the eve of December 5, children leave their shoes by their home’s doorway awaiting Saint Nicolas to fill them with candies and small gifts.

     Since Saint Nicolas travels the countryside by donkey, they might also leave cubes of sugar and a carrot or two for his donkey. In recent times, children leave their shoes at the foot of their beds, or under their Christmas tree, in hopes that Saint Nicolas will see how good they have been throughout the year.

     This tradition began with a scary tale of good versus bad characters. Three children became lost in the countryside and a wicked butcher called le Père Fouettard kidnapped them. Luckily, Saint Nicolas rescued the children and returned them to their parents.

     That is why Saint Nicolas is considered the protector of children throughout the world.

Joyeux Noël everyone.