Christmas in French Guiana is celebrated with a public holiday every 25 December, as it is in a majority of countries around the world. This Christian festivity commemorates the birth of Jesus, and is part of a 22-28 day season in the Christian calendar known as Advent.
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Christmas in French Guiana has much in common with Christmas in France, and in fact, French Guiana is an official part of France despite its distance and geographical detachment.
One of the main French and French Guianan traditions is that of Papa Noel, also called Father Christmas. Kids leave their shoes by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, and if they’ve been good, he fills them up with candy, nuts, fruits, and toys. But Papa Fouettard, whose name derives from a word meaning “to whip”, may come to spank naughty little boys and girls!
Some homes in French Guiana will have a Christmas tree, decorated with apples, paper flowers, and ribbons. Some also will have a nativity scene. For Christmas dinner, seafood dishes and smoked ham are very popular, along with locally, or even self-grown, vegetables. Many also indulge in champagne, or in “Ti punch”, which is made of lime juice, sugarcane syrup, and rum.
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