Christmas in Monaco – Customs and Traditions

Christmas in Monaco is certainly an interesting period to go and visit the city-state.

The Christmas traditions that are far more common in Monaco are a blend of the Western tradition and that of the French and Italians. When planning to spend your Christmas season in Monaco, then you should be prepared to have absolute fun because no day has no fun activity here.

Monaco is one region that has created its traditions and the Monegasque families usually observe these traditions. It is essential to note that most of the traditions are related to the Christian holidays, hence, you will find a major influence from their religious as well as traditional customs.

Monaco has undergone tremendous changes as it has been creating the traditions and customs for over seven centuries now. Let’s learn more about them!

Pan de Natale

This is one of the oldest Christmas traditions in Monaco. The tradition takes place during the Christmas mass and it involves round sweet bread with 4 to 7 hazelnuts and an olive branch that depicts the Christmas table. The tradition indicates that this table is blessed by the head of the family and once it is done, it is also blessed during the midnight mass, which usually happens at the cathedral on Christmas Eve.

It is common for many people across Monaco to visit the church on Christmas Eve. Once the Christmas Eve mass comes to an end the priest will bless the bread and people can take it home for consumption. It is imperative to note that this bread is usually shared during Christmas Eve dinner.

Just like other places across the globe, the Christmas traditions in Monaco have faced various challenges and they are on the verge of extinction. However, many locals believe that these traditions should be revived and Monegasques should follow as they promote Monaco as one of the top tourist destinations on the planet.

The tradition of Pan de Natale is one of the traditions that has been identified as critical in boosting the culture, customs, and Christmas traditions in Monaco.

Olive branch blessing

This is one of the ancient traditions that has stood the test of time in Monaco. While the principality of Monaco is usually filled with people from different parts of the world, it is important to note that there are traditions followed by the local people.

There has been a very huge influence from the West and this can be challenging, especially for young people in the state. However, a commission has been set up in the country and its main objective is to revive the various traditions in the country. 

The olive branch blessing is often done when people have gathered at the Christmas table. The eldest in the family will take a branch of olive, dip it in wine, make and prayer, and take it to the fireplace before making the sign of a cross. It is largely based on the ancient Christian traditions and you will find it more common around the principality.

The other guests and family members will then sit down, eat and drink from the bountiful table, and it is a common belief that this tradition is to boost the crops in the coming year. In many places around the state, you will find hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and chocolates. Once the family has finished their dinner, they will participate in various fun games.

Thirteen Desserts

This is a unique Christmas tradition that is prevalent in different parts of Monaco. The Monegasques are known to keep this tradition over the centuries. Thirteen desserts are served during this period and it is derived from the Christian tradition of the twelve disciples of Jesús and Jesús himself.

The Catholics believe that walnuts and hazelnuts are for the Augustinians, figs for Franciscans, and Carmelite for the Dominicans. One of the desserts would symbolize the different Catholic orders which are bound by a vow of poverty.

The main dessert is la pompe and this is a type of sweet focaccia made from olive oil, flour, sugar, and orange flower essence. In the ancient culture, it was not cut with a knife and it is believed that it should be broken by hand. This has led to a common tradition in the ancient past in which the disciples broke the bread and shared it.

The Monegasques believe that if the breaking of bread is done differently it could result in financial ruin in the coming year.

It is important to note that the thirteen desserts are far more common in Provence. In many households around this region, you will find that the dinner has to have thirteen desserts, thirteen plates complete with sweets, and twelve of these plates will have fruits from the gardens and fields, and the last plate would be filled to the brim.

During the Christmas Eve dinner, people would eat and pray for a bountiful year in the new year. It is common to find that people observe this tradition in different parts of Monaco.

Christmas preparations in Monaco

When the Christmas period approaches, the people in Monaco take their Christmas preparation to a new level by incorporating various features that have ensured that they have the best experience possible. 

Whether enjoying Christmas in the rural parts of the country or exploring the big cities and hotels around, you will always feel the Christmas spirit in Monaco. The luxury hotels usually host a wide array of events focused on celebrating Christmas. 

The magic of Christmas in the principality is exceptional. As the night draws, the principality comes to life with some of the most exceptional Christmas decorations and lights. You can dine and wine at your fancy hotel or restaurant, or enjoy an exceptional time on the French Riviera.

The Christmas lights are set from November 22nd and from this time, the people know that Christmas has arrived. 

The city usually places a huge Christmas tree in the center and the illuminations are something that you can marvel at during your visit. It is essential to note that while the Christmas lights are taken out in early January, the illuminations in the Fontevieille district usually remain until the Monte Carlo circus festival at the end of January.

This is an integral feature in the promotion of the Monegasque’s Christmas culture, traditions, diversity, and the entertainment scene in the region.

Santa Claus in Monaco

Perhaps many people will tend to think that Santa does not exist in the principality of Monaco. However, this is not the case because the people in the region believe in Santa and there is a unique tradition in Monaco because each year there is a seasonal secretariat who is at the post office.

The main work of the secretariat is to receive letters that are to be sent to Santa Claus. The children in the state will participate in cleaning exercises. Once they have completed them, they will often put shoes on the window or at the fireplace where they will be expecting Santa Claus to put their gifts.

In the rural parts of the Christmas village in Port Hercules, the theme is influenced by Canada and the atmosphere here is impeccable. It is usually snowing at a high level and you can explore the area by visiting the chalets and get to enjoy the panoramic views from the big wheel. It is a perfect place for children to enjoy some of the unique features that make Christmas in this region impeccable. 

There are skating activities as well in the area and many people are known to participate on Christmas Eve as they bond with their friends and relative. This village is usually open until January.

Christmas Day in Monaco

Many people in Monaco are known to observe common Christian traditions. On Christmas day, they will attend morning Christmas services at the local parishes before they can enjoy the Christmas feast. There is a short mass held on Christmas day where friends and family members usually join together.

Christmas lunch in Monaco

One of the most common traditions observed by Monegasques is that they usually have a large lunch with friends and family after the Christmas mass.

The dishes include fish, roasted pork, roasted beef, turkey, venison, and wine. In addition to this, you can find some of the signature dishes in the major restaurants found across Monaco.

The Christmas markets are active during this period as well. The hotels usually get into the Christmas spirit and they have the best experience possible because you get to interact with people from different parts of the world.

Learn more about the Christmas traditions from the neighboring countries:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.