The French can seem a bit fickle on which seasonal day is best for giving gifts: some prefer the Feast of St. Nicholas (on December 6th), some go with the traditional Christmas Eve exchange, while others prefer to wait on the Feast of Kings (January 6th) for gift giving.
In France (much like Germany’s Krampus and Canada’s Belsnickel) Santa has a counterpart to deal with naughty children. Pere Fouettard (Whipping Father) also known as the “slapping Santa” carries a whip for chastising children who’ve been bad.
On the 12th day of Christmas, the feast of Epiphany, the Galette de Rios is consumed. This cake comes with a surprise: a special charm that appoints the finder king (or queen) and gives the authority to don the crown and select their queen or king.
Enjoy this video of Pere Noel, the French version of Father Christmas as he describes Watch Night/Christmas Eve, Santon, figures for the Nativity, Midnight Mass, and the Reveillon feast (including fromage and buche de noel).
Thank you to ITM’s JeniLynn for the video from Epcot’s Holidays around the World. Kind of neat how the French government requires a return postcard for any letter sent to Pere Noel.
Our holiday card of Christmas traditions continues with more from Epcot’s Holidays around the World, so stay tuned to ITM!