XIXth century France was largely rural and there were noticeable differences between urban and rural festive customs. Christmas festivities had a religious character: Midnight Mass was a powerful moment in the liturgical calendar. Popular merry-making, which focused on Nativity plays and worship at the family crèche, developed with distinct regional characteristics. Christmas dinner in the country had not yet taken on the form of the "réveillon" or Christmas Eve party.
Today, religious elements have given way to a family celebration with adults and children gathering around the tree for the traditional exchange of presents.
In Canada, Christmas traditions have come from many countries. France has given us its celebration of the Nativity with its old carols, Germany the Christmas tree and its many ornaments and England, greeting cards. Ireland has bequeathed us the ancient Gaelic custom of putting lights in windows. The United States has provided Santa Claus and Czechoslovakia and Japan have produced a flood of Christmas tree and interior home decorations of all kinds.