What do French use instead of Christmas trees? Festive Yule Logs!

In France, having a sapin de Noel is as traditional as it is in many other parts of the world. However, some French households opt for a different kind of tree to decorate their homes during the holidays. Instead of a Christmas tree as we know it, they use a cherry or apple tree, which is commonly called a arbre de Noel or tree of Christmas. The apple or cherry tree is wrapped in cotton to simulate snow, and colorful ornaments and lights are added to bring the festive spirit. Here are some interesting facts about the use of cherry or apple trees instead of traditional Christmas trees in France:
  • The tradition of using cherry or apple trees as Christmas trees dates back to the 16th century.
  • These trees were often used as a way to bring some greenery and life into homes during the cold winter months.
  • French households that use cherry or apple trees claim that it adds a unique touch of charm and warmth to their holiday decorations.
  • Using cherry or apple trees as Christmas trees can also be seen as a nod to France’s rich agricultural history.
  • Although the majority of French households use traditional Christmas trees, the use of cherry or apple trees is still a beloved holiday tradition in some parts of the country.
  • So, if you happen to be in France during the holiday season, don’t be surprised if you see a cherry or apple tree decorated with ornaments and lights instead of the traditional Christmas tree. It’s all part of the French way of celebrating the joy of the season.
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    The Tradition of Sapin de Noel in France

    The sapin de Noel, or Christmas tree in France, is a deeply beloved and important tradition. While the origins of the Christmas tree date back to ancient pagan times, the modern version of the sapin de Noel in France has been around since the 16th century. Today, most French families set up and decorate a Christmas tree in their home during the holiday season.

    Where to Find Sapin de Noel in France

    To get a sapin de Noel in France, most families purchase a fresh tree from a store in their area that sells them during the holiday season. These trees are usually cut and delivered the same day, so shoppers can be assured of getting a fresh tree with the pine scent that fills their homes. In markets and festive areas, vendors also sell freshly cut trees. Some French families prefer to go to the forest to cut their own tree – a tradition in itself.

    Different Types of Trees Used in France for Christmas

    The most common type of tree used for sapin de Noel is the classic fir tree. However, some families may choose to go with a pine or spruce tree instead. The firs utilized in France are mainly Nordmann and noble firs as they have great needle retention and longer-lasting vitality. The choice depends on the availability, pricing, and preference of the family. Bullet points for Different Types of Trees Used in France for Christmas – Nordmann fir – Noble fir – Pine tree – Spruce tree
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    Cost of Sapin de Noel in France

    The cost of a sapin de Noel in France is dependent on the size and type of tree. The bigger the tree, the more expensive it tends to be. The average cost for a sapin de Noel ranges from 20 euros to 100 euros, depending on the size and type. Artificial trees are readily available, but natural trees are significantly more popular.

    Decorating Sapin de Noel in French Style

    When it comes to decorating a sapin de Noel in French style, the key is to keep things simple and elegant. Most French families prefer to stick to classic ornaments made of glass and metallic tinsel, with some homemade decorations added in for a personal touch. It is customary for ornaments to be hung in sections to even out the tree both in vertical and horizontal style. French families hang sparkly glass, golden or silver baubles, jewels, ribbons, and sometimes little native animals on the tree during Christmas.

    Other French Christmas Decorations to Try

    Beyond the sapin de Noel, there are many other French Christmas decorations that families can incorporate into their homes. For instance, you can place a giant-sized, traditional creche, or nativity scene in a tabletop setting centered in a prominent location in the home. There are also hand-painted santons or small collectible terracotta figures of inhabitants of Provence, that families can either add in the nativity setting or use as standalone decoration. Other popular decor options include festive wreaths, garlands, and mistletoe hangings. Bullet points for Other French Christmas Decorations to Try – Traditional creche (nativity scene) – Santons (small terracotta figures) – Festive wreaths – Garlands – Mistletoe hangings
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    Unique French Christmas Traditions to Explore

    Along with sapin de Noel and other decorations, France has a variety of unique Christmas traditions that are worth exploring. For instance, the French celebrate Saint Nicholas Day on the 6th of December with small presents and a feast. They also have the tradition of Le Reveillon on Christmas Eve where the family gathers for a late-night feast following midnight mass. A custom unique to French villages is making a Yule Log cake comprising of sponge cake in the shape of an actual Yule log. Bullet points for Unique French Christmas Traditions to Explore – Saint Nicholas Day – Le Reveillon – Yule Log cake France has a rich and diverse Christmas culture, with the sapin de Noel at the heart of it all. Families gather around their decorated trees to exchange gifts and enjoy the holiday festivities. This year, consider incorporating some French traditions into your holiday celebrations to bring some extra magic to the season.

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