Father Christmas

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Jean François Tripelon-Jarry

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Jean François Tripelon-Jarry

Father Christmas

In our own time, Father Christmas is the undisputed star of the whole Advent period, a good-natured character dressed in a capacious red coat trimmed with fur, corpulent and of uncertain age although his sizeable beard and white hair make him look like an elderly gentleman. However, it was only after the Second World War that he turned up in France. He arrived in the wake of the American troops, displacing those who preceded him: Saint Nicolas, the baby Jesus and local figures such as Père Chalende in Savoie, Olentzero in the Basque region or Tante Arié of Franche-Comté. Nowadays, no one questions the lay patriarch any more. And he has proliferated to such extent that he appears in advertisements and in shopping centres. This does not stop children from waiting for him with great excitement on the morning of 25 December. Some people do not forget to place beneath the tree or in front of the fireplace carrots for his donkey or his reindeer, and a hot drink to give him courage for his task of distributing toys to children all over the world in one night.