Friday, December 2, 2011

A French Christmas - "Le Sapin de Noël " (The Christmas Tree)

What is the one decorative item that symbolizes the beauty of the Christmas Season? For me, it's always been the Christmas tree. I've always loved decorating our Christmas tree and I love to turn on Christmas carols, turn off all the lights in the room and simply gaze at the tree. It's one of those times when I reflect on my friends, family and Christmases past.

Just like at MFFC in Texas, U.S.A., le sapin de Noël (the Christmas tree) is one of the main Christmas decorations in French homes.

The sapin de Noël first appeared in the Alsace Region of France in the 14th century. At this time, Alsace was part of Germany.  It wasn't until the Franco-Prussian War from 1870-1871 that the Christmas tree became popular in France due to immigrants fleeing from regions of Lorraine and Alsace. These immigrants brought with them the Germanic tradition of the decorated Christmas tree. By the 1930's the Christmas tree had become a beloved part of the Christmas celebration in almost every French home.

French tradition is that the Christmas tree should not be put up before Christmas Eve and then should be taken down twelve days after Christmas, on the Epiphany. Most French households; however, put up their tree by mid December. Like me, they can't wait to put up this beautiful symbol of Christmas.


The French decorate their trees with candles, lights, red ribbons, tinsel and colored stars. The lights on the French sapin de Noël symbolize Christ, "the light that illuminates the world." Fir trees are used for the sapin de Noël since they do not lose their leaves during winter, also symbolizing hope and eternal life.

MH and I decorated our tree this Thanksgiving weekend. We picked out a 10 foot Noble Fir, the largest tree we've ever had! As I sit here I think this is our prettiest tree ever - just like I do every year.  But this year, I have new decorations, all in silver, white and gold hanging beside my newly collected vintage silver and blue Shiney Brite ornaments.  The very tips of the tree are covered in various sizes of clear, crystal icicles. It's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

Christmas tree with vintage Shiney Brite ornaments and vintage bead garland.

Bird Nest and Bird Ornament on Christmas Tree.

Joyeux Noël, Mitty

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