Thursday, December 10, 2015
In France, different regions of the nation celebrate Christmas differently, and even at different times. Most provinces recognized and celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but in northern and eastern regions of France, the Christmas season is officially begun on the 6th day of December. La fete de Saint NIcolas, la fete des Rois, and la Fete de lumieres, honor Saint Nicholas, the Epiphany, and the Virgin Mary. These holidays are special parts of the French Christmas season.
Children in France don't hang stockings by the chimney, they place their shoes in front of the fireplace for Pere Noel to fill with gifts. Candy, fruits and nuts, and toys are also hung on the tree Christmas Eve night. Pere Fouettard, who is basically Santa's Counterpart, gives out spankings to naughty boys and girls.
In 1962, France passed a law requiring all letters written to Pere Noel, to receive a response, so Santa sends each child a postcard acknowledging their letter and wishing them a happy holiday season.
La Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass) on Christmas Eve is an important part of Christmas for many families, and is followed by a grand feast. This feast is called le Revellion is meant to be a symbolic awakening to the glory and miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many restaurants and cafes stay open all night to serve this meal. Each French region has it's own traditional menu ranging from turkey, goose, and chicken to a dish similar to white pudding, called boudin blanc.
Traditional dessert foods include la buche de Noel ( Yule log cake made with chocolate and chestnuts), le pain calendeau (Christmas loaf, which is shared with a less fortunate person), and la Galette des Rois (round cake that is cut and handed out by a child hiding under the table. There is a charm hidden inside, and whoever finds it is King or Queen during the celebration of Epiphany.
Another important aspect of French Christmas celebrations is the creche (nativity scene)
displayed in churches and homes. Living nativity's are commonly performed to remind those in attendance that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the miracles surrounding that birth.
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This year, I really, really wanted a flocked Christmas tree. Flocked trees are those vintage-y white ones. Not the ones with white plastic needles, the ones that are white with a snowy texture. Some are all white and some are a little white with plenty of green still showing.
I even casually checked some out while I was shopping, thinking maybe I would find a killer sale.
But I didn’t.
Especially considering I already had a perfectly nice artificial tree at home.
So, of course, the next logical step was to figure out how to turn the tree I already had into a snowy masterpiece.
I turned to Pinterest and started searching for ways to flock your own tree. I found lots of different ways involving soap flakes, white glue, glitter, even spray paint. But when I looked at the results, they really didn’t look much like a real flocked tree at all. I only found one picture that showed a really great looking flocked tree and when I clicked on that one, the blogger had used the kind of flocking material that florists and other professionals use.
It only makes sense I guess – if you want it to look like the real thing, you need to use the real stuff.
So I started searched for some flocking myself and found that it isn’t super cheap. (But it is way cheaper than a whole flocked tree!) I did a little searching for the best price and found this bonding snow flock on ebay to be the best deal. (Update: you can also buy the same snow flock from the same company through Amazon if you prefer. Both places offer free shipping and the same prices.)
I really wasn’t sure how much flocking I would need but I was able to choose 2 pounds for $26 or 5 pounds for $40, so I went for five pounds. I figured it was better to have too much than too little. In the end, I probably used around half of the 5 pounds. Our tree is seven and a half feet tall and I flocked it very lightly with plenty of green still showing. If I had wanted it completely white, I think I would have used the whole box.
The actual process was super simple. It is a little messy, so I recommend working in a basement or garage if possible. If not, cover the floor under the tree with a tarp or dropcloth. (Also if you are interested in trying this out, be sure to check out my answers to frequently asked questions about this project.)
The flocking is a powder that came in a big box. The only other things you need to create your own DIY flocked Christmas tree are a spray bottle of water and a strainer.
I should mention that before I flocked our tree, I did something else slightly crazy to it. Last year over half of the lights on our pre-lit tree burned out. I just unplugged them and threw on a bunch of other strings of lights. This year, since I knew I was going to be making our tree beautiful and snowy, I didn’t really want to cover lots of old nonworking lights with flocking, so I cut all of the lights that came on the tree off first. This probably took around three hours and was completely unneccessary but I’m glad I did it. We are most likely going to have this tree for many more years and now it is good as new again.
You can flock real trees, fake trees, prelit trees, wreaths, garlands, pretty much anything. And you certainly do not have to remove the lights from your prelit tree first – that’s just a little of my crazy showing.
Use your spray bottle to lightly mist a section of the tree with water. Scoop up some of the flocking into your strainer and sift it onto the damp tree. Spray the flocked section of the tree with water again. The water activates the adhesive, fluffs up the flocking, and seals it all. (By the way, you don’t want to accidentally mist your sifter with the water – it will fluff up the flocking before it is on the tree and stop up the sifter).
Continue to do this moving from section to section. Afterwards, if you would like your flocking fuller, go back and add more water and more flocking. As you can see, I flocked my tree with it all already put together. If you want yours to be more thoroughly white, you may want to take apart the sections so you can better reach the inner branches.
I love how much it actually looks like a snowy evergreen!
You are going to have to let everything dry. This takes between 6 and 72 hours. The more thickly you flock it, the longer it will take. I flocked my tree in the evening, let it dry overnight, and the next morning it was ready to move upstairs and decorate.
This is by far my favorite Christmas project ever! Here is a pic of the same tree last year and this year. The only differences are the flocking and some new ribbon.