Like in many other countries, the first thing French people do to start the Christmas festivities is put up the Christmas tree. It is mostly a family affair and everyone help to decorate it with carefully chosen baubles and garlands. Here is our lowdown on this most Christmassy of activities.
Choosing your Christmas tree
The first step for putting up your Christmas tree is, of course, to choose the right tree. There are different kinds possible, but the choice is usually made between two species: the spruce and the Nordmann tree.
The spruce, with its bright green colour and sharp needles, has a very nice smell. Unfortunately, it loses its pine needles quite quickly – it lasts around 2 weeks after being bought. It was once the favourite Christmas tree for the French people, but it was recently dethroned by the Nordmann tree.
The Nordmann tree also has a nice smell, although it is not as pronounced as the spruce’s. Its pine needles are supple and smooth and can last up to 2 months! In addition, it holds up well under baubles that can be quite heavy. This kind of Christmas tree is a bit more expensive than the spruce, but it tends to be the most popular one nowadays in France.
Last but not least, you can also go for the artificial Christmas tree. Yes, the smell is not here but there are no pine needles to worry about and it is reusable every year! This kind is the most expensive of the three, but you can use it for years!
How to pick the best one?
– Opt for a Christmas tree that is well garnished and dense as it will last longer. Be sure to check for broken branches as it would be a sign of bad processing.
– Pick a Christmas tree with a beautiful green colour which will mean that the tree is healthy.
– When choosing a tree, be careful about its size. Try to keep to a size that will fit in the space you are planning to put it in to avoid possible inconveniences when finally putting it into position.
– Check the Christmas tree is fresh by passing your hand through a branch. If too many needles fall, choose another tree. Keep in mind that the falling of the needle might also depend on the variety of tree you are choosing.
– Another thing you can do before is weigh your tree. The heavier, the better as it means that it is still full of sap and so was cut very recently. As a consequence, it will last longer.
Christmas tree decorations
Traditionally, the first Christmas trees were decorated with natural and edible products such as apples, sweets, biscuits, nuts, pine cones but also dolls, ribbons, colored papers, and candles. However, after a terrible drought, not enough apples and other fruits were harvested so a glass blower created the first Christmas bauble.
Since then, a large number of different ornaments can be bought at Christmas markets or high street stores.
Tips to have a beautiful Christmas tree
– The spot you choose to put your Christmas tree in is quite important. It has to be at a place where it is stable and will not risk being suddenly shaken by someone passing by. You also need to make sure that it is not too close to a source of warmth.
– Electric garlands need to be put on the branches close to the base of the tree, from the bottom to the top.
– Avoid putting ornaments too close to the extremity of the branches as they might fall due to their weight. You should also put them at random to avoid symmetry and try to put them as homogeneously as possible, varying shapes and colors. The bigger ornaments need to go on the bottom of the tree while the smallest near the top.
– A good Christmas tree is usually not multicolored. You should choose 2 to 3 colors. The traditional colors are gold, green and red, but you can of course choose any other colour you like!
– In recent years, Christmas tree decorations have also become more natural with, for example, the return of dried orange slices, or any other natural element such as branches, pine cones, or other beautiful objects found during your walks in the forest or the countryside. Some also go for originality with dried flowers!
Here are a few examples of trees that we have fallen in love with!
We hope these tips will help you make your tree the most beautiful of all. Ready, set, decorate!