Père Noël

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In most of the France the gift-bringer is Père Noël, a tall old man with a white beard clothed more like England’s Father Christmas than the American Santa Claus: in a long hooded robe edged with white fur. Like Santa he carries a sack (in some areas, a basket) filled with toys but, lacking a sleigh and reindeer, he travels about with a donkey. On Christmas Eve he enters the house down the chimney and leaves presents for children underneath the tree or in their shoes which are placed by the crèche or the fireplace. It is customary for children to leave him a snack along with some fodder for his donkey. An earlier French gift-bringer was the figure representing the Christ Child known as Le Petit Jésus or Le Petit Noël but this has largely been displaced by Père Noël who first appeared under this name in 1855.

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