1) FOOD Something you likely wouldn't expect at an American Christmas Eve meal, seafood is very popular in France during the holidays. Expect Oysters at dinner. And for dessert, Yule Logs.
2) DECOR Christmas trees are common but few people seem to keep them in water. Many are sold in carved out tree stumps. It's convenient because they're ready to stand up on their own but after a week or so, the needles start to hit the floor. Also, though France is increasingly nonreligious, Catholic traditions remain and nativities are popular decorations in French homes.
3) CHURCH Fewer and fewer families attend Mass on Christmas Eve but for many it is still a tradition. La Messe de Minuit, as it is called, usually takes place between 6 and 10pm, even though the literal translation is "Midnight Mass". The mass is meant to reflect on the birth of Jesus. For many French people, especially young adults, Christmas Eve Mass is the only time in the year that they'll attend church. Many also opt to stay home and watch a televised Mass.
4) MARKETS Christmas Markets are a huge part of the holiday season in France. Even many smaller cities will have a market. In most, you'll find all kinds of holiday treats, delicacies, arts and crafts. While you can find markets all over the country, some of the more famous ones are in Lille, Strasbourg, and Colmar.
5) SANTA Children in France put their shoes in front of the fireplace so that Papa Noel will fill them with gifts, small ones obviously. Candies and snacks are also hung on the tree overnight.
As Missionaries we pray that the people of France, and all people, will know and realize the true meaning of the holiday. Jesus came into the world to give life to all who believe and trust in Him as Savior. That's the greatest news ever!