The French countryside is cool and grey as Christmas time approaches but spirits are high and children are filled with gleeful anticipation. Baking, cleaning and
making small gifts begins in early December but decorating is left to the last moments before Christmas Eve. A small tree filled with lights and chocolates sits
on top of a little table, gifts spread beneath its branches. But first and foremost is the attendance of evening mass to celebrate the birthday of the Baby Jesus.
During this time Pere Noel, French Father Christmas, comes to add that special gift that each child has been dreaming about for weeks. After mass, the children are
allowed to open their gifts, songs are sung and the whole family enjoys the Christmas pastries. On Christmas Day, families visit each other to share a traditional
multi-course French dinner during which time storytelling and conversation punctuate each course. France is similar to many European countries in the celebration of
family and friends at Christmas time.