I learned about this tradition when I was in Middle School in Ohio taking French class. I didn't really believe it happened (I don't know why I was skeptical, why would Ms. Frimmel lie to me?).
The church was already pretty crowded when we arrived around 10:15, but we managed to find a bench fairly close to the front, but off to the side. There was a lot of talking in French that I didn't understand, but there was also enough singing that I had a nice experience.
The songs were set to the tunes of "O Come All Ye Faithful," and "O Holy Night," and the words were printed on the bulletin they handed out when we entered the church. I was happy when the priest called everyone up to take communion, because that meant it was almost over! (Dave said he wanted to go up, but when I told him I had tried one of those wafers in high school and it tasted like paper, he changed his mind.)
Just outside the church after midnight mass.
We actually just meant to stop by for a quick drink of "Champomy," but their kids were still awake (they open gifts on the 24th here) and everyone was in a good mood, so we ended up staying until the wee hours of the morning. So Dave and I were exhausted when we finally got home and started wrapping presents!
I have to say the best part of the evening was when Nicholas decided he wanted to speak to Dave's mother in the US. He was a little "gaie" as they say here (not drunk-just tipsy!) so he was trying to speak in English and was cracking us up. (He wasn't doing too badly at first, but as the night wore on, he sounded more and more like "Borat.")
Here is a picture of Nicholas explaining to me about wine glasses. Listening to him speak english was MUCH more interesting!