The Swinging Santas of France

Written by on December 12, 2012 in My French Life

Christmas traditions France

Christmas means trees, mistletoe, twinkling lights, presents, beautiful wreaths and tinsel,  it means many things to many people. In most countries around the world where Christmas is celebrated there are shared artefacts and traditions that we all recognise. In France though I have discovered a new Christmas marker – the swinging Santa!

I’ve never seen this predilection for hanging Santas up anywhere else quite like they do it here. When houses don’t have chimneys, Father Christmas comes in through the window. Personally I think he looks like he’s fallen off the roof, been left behind by Rudolf and co. and is hanging on for dear life.

There are Santas hanging from chimney pots, garden swings, window sills, guttering, wells, garage roofs, sheds, doors, shutters and satellite dishes.

Christmas traditions France

Plastic inflatable Santas, usually with a sack thrown over their shoulders and always grinning are everywhere.  Some are tied or weighted down to stop them swinging too wildly; others are left to be blown about. I’ve seen them tied to statues in gardens, leering at passers-by as they hold onto a nude lady; weighted down by gnomes or tied to inflatable snowmen buddies. Lots of my friends like to think the Santas are a crackpot team of buglars, precariously hanging on to a window sill in the dead of night lit only by the moon’s rays, it can be a bit spooky if they catch you unawares. One of my friends has suggested they look a little bit like a “Peeping Tom” except they are openly gazing into windows.

I am actually thinking about getting one … no I’m not! I’m just kidding. I like to see them – in other people’s gardens and houses! Some people leave them up all year round, I kid you not.  I’ve seen them when the temperate has been a soaring 40°C and the sky is azure blue. Santa’s red coat is actually very fetching with that backdrop, just a little bit odd though.

Christmas traditions France

Kids play spot the swinging Santa games in cars, some people have their favourite swinging Santa locations. Mine would need to be on a chateau I think to have the true wow factor and I haven’t seen one yet…

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