'Tis the season to be jolly

Well yes it is, but I'm sure there are things we all miss when we celebrate Christmas in 'another' country. For me, like many SFN members, France is home but (in no particular order) I do miss:

Carols by candlelight - there is nothing like a small child singing 'Once in Royal David's City' to bring a tear to the eye.

Cheap wrapping paper

Mince pies

Boxing Day

and of course, my family.

How about you? How do you celebrate? And what do you miss? Or more positively, how have you re-invented Christmas a la francaise?

My family and friends obviously, but also, I miss seeing all the stores decorated. Here, I've noticed that one store will have a string of lights and another store might have a toy santa in the window. In the states, it was almost as if the stores were competing for you to look at them. Lights, faux Christmas, santa, reindeer, tinsel, you name it. The stores went to town! If the owners didn't celebrate Christmas, in some you would find Hanukkah decorations that would match any Christmas decorations in any other store front window. The closer you got to Christmas, the more carols you would hear being blared out of speakers...okay, it got a bit hectic after three weeks, but that's what I miss. Don't even get me STARTED on the house decorations!

We miss our friends and the parties leading up to the big day. Also, 12 - 14 of us always had Christmas Dinner together since our families live in different States or countries. As is tradition in America, right after Thanksgiving, the tree is up and decorated and won't come down til after New Years. My husband's birthday is Christmas Day (he's not called Noel though) so we celebrate that on Christmas eve and open our presents Christmas morning. It will be a sad but happy time, just the two of us.

Suet, make your own. Get beef suet from a butcher that is entirely free of meat or blood, melt it down very slowly then let it set again. It is just like Atora packets.

Catherine - mincemeat for the mince pies is soooo easy, the only thing is you need suet but I'm sure you can get hold of a box. By easy, you throw it all in an oven proof dish then let it melt in a cool oven for a couple of hours - then put inside your mince pies. And you will never use shop bought again. Noz is the place for Christmas cards and wrapping paper.

We're going to the UK this year for the first time in ten years, it will be a first British Christmas for the kids (they are 6 and 8 now) and I have given mum and dad the list of priorities.

Visit Father Christmas for the kids

Nativity service at the local church

Carol singing in the local town

PANTOMIME (my goodness, what a shock the prices were)

Traipsing the length of the UK to visit all the family (many who have never met both kids!)

We don't miss the tradditional British Christmas as we think it is too long and commercial but we're really looking forward to a change.

We do it very Italian/Germanic. The food will be mainly along these lines:

Insalata di arance
Lasagne della vigilia
Spigola alla Ranieri
Gratin di mele
Frutta secca / Panforte di Siena
Vini bianco secco e Montepulciano rosso

At roughly the end of next week I shall make Lebkuchen and Weihnachtstollen

We shall do presents very late, as close as possible to midnight on 24 December and the food above will be the 25th lunch. Chritmas Eve may well be a late dinner of broccoli soup, which believe it or not, is a typical Italian Christmas soup, with foccaccia and something like tiramisu.

Old movies like White Christmas will be ritually viewed on 25 December, plus the ones the girls are gtting they do not know about yet such as Brave...

Lynn, I love the sound of the candlelit walk and Christmas songs. It brings the real atmosphere of Christmas back, instead of the seemingly endless focus on presents. Mind you, at the moment, my focus is on finding a decent turkey for Christmas day. The Mother and my stepdad are coming for one week so I need everything to be just right. It will be our first Christmas here so I'm actually looking forward to decorating a tree and making the front room look like Santa's grotto, all warm and cosy while it's cold outside. It was never quite the same in Malta because the temperature rarely fell below 15 degs. Oh, and I found a 'Christmas Hits' channel on the TV so we can have silly songs playing in the background. Lovely.

I have to say I found some beautiful wrapping paper in Super U - it was printed on really good quality brown paper and is fabulous - really got me in the Christmas mood - How can such a small thing give such pleasure? Now I need to get back to making more stuff for the round of Christmas fairs we are attending!!! :o(

Our local primary school have a candlelit walk to the nearby church where they sing all type of Christmassy songs from around the world. It is such a lovely evening.

I miss the Christmas carol singers also. In Washington there were evenings where all of a sudden you could hear caroling groups outside your door or walking around the neighborhood I miss the decorations(which are green and red not pink and blue and purple) and the snow. We always has a good Virginia Smithfield ham. I miss the friendly spirit of Christmas in the States. Most of all I miss noisy confusion of being with my four sisters and their families.

Aaah Christmas.... mostly still celebrate in English style... a local couple organise Carol singing (which the French love), my Mum makes THE most fabulous mince pies, wrapping paper I print myself .... do miss the Boxing Day walk on the beach though..... spend it working here!!!

I’d agree on the Carols, I miss them. Christmas is turned on its head for us as my Mrs also has her birthday on Christmas Day, hence “Nathalie”. So we do the very French thing of big meal Christmas Eve for Christmas and then celebrate her birthday on the day itself.
We are having a change this year, with an End of the World party on the 21st, just in case.

Catherine, get down to Lidl - I bought some wrapping paper yesterday, 1.49 € for 10m!

We're having our first UK Christmas for, let me see - well for my husband it's his first ever and for me for the first time in I'd guess 10 years.

I have been lucky because my mum has always brought us mince pies and Christmas cake (and the obligatory Wensleydale to eat with it! That's maybe a Yorkshire thing)

I haven't had Christmas pudding for years though, so looking forward to that.

I agree about Boxing Day - it seems wrong somehow that the 26th is just another working day

Oh - and I really miss real German Christmas markets, with proper mulled wine and all that.

We celebrate half German/ half the English way; the tree will only be put up 23rd December and with real beeswax candles and the presents will be given on 24th in the evening (like in Germany). But we'll have a real English Christmas lunch on 25th. That way, everybody is happy.

The four weeks before Christmas are probably typically German in our house, I just finished making the wreath and have started baking biscuits. Love it!

Hi Catharine,

I miss Carols by Candlelight too. Otherwise I try to recreate and make everything myself/with the kids. Including wrapping paper. Loving Pinterest for cheap wrapping paper ideas but a good stamp, stamp pad and kraft paper make for lovely wrapping ;-)
Boxing day on the beach with fresh prawns and lobster ... Sigh - not sure how to recreate that one!!!