Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve - Réveillon

Posted by Rosie

Today is Christmas Eve, known in France as Réveillon with the word coming from the verb réveiller, to wake up or revive.  Whilst in the UK Christmas Eve is all too often spent frantically rushing round getting last minute things done before Christmas Day (or is that just me?) in France it is the start of the main Christmas festivities.

Réveillon is a time for family gatherings so having many members of a family sit down around the table is not uncommon.  And the meal will be something extra special.  Exactly what is eaten varies with each region and may include such delicacies as lobster, oysters, smoked salmon, escargots (snails), foie gras and turkey.  It will be many courses over several hours and even young children stay up until well past midnight when dessert will finally be served.  This is often a Bûche de Noël or Yule Log. In times gone by it was traditional to burn a Yule log over the festive period but as fires became less common the edible variety took over.  If you don't fancy trying your luck at rolling the cake and icing it supermarkets and patisseries sell beautifully crafted logs for you to buy.

In France, children do not hang stockings for Father Christmas to fill but instead place slippers or wooden clogs called sabots in the hearth.  They may leave carrots in them for Père Noël's donkey, Gui and hope that Père Noël will arrive and fill them with small gifts ... if they have been good!

We have lived in France now for7 years but as is probably common with many expats, we retain many of our home traditions.  There will be no gargantuan meal on Christmas Eve for us and we will be eating our main meal tomorrow, on Christmas Day.  Stockings will be hung in hopeful expectation of presents being delivered by Father Christmas and his reindeer but in breaking with tradition there will be no whole roast turkey and no Christmas pudding.  For main course we are having some roast pork and a breast of roast turkey (both our own of course) and for pudding we are going for something French with our own twist - a ginger-themed Café Gourmand: a cup of espresso (or tea/hot chocolate for non coffee drinkers) served with several little desserts all gingery in flavour.  Photos to follow later (if I remember!).  We have done a similar thing for several years now - our own expat tradition!

Christmas Café Gourmand

Just time then to wish you all a Happy Christmas.  Translated into French this is Joyeux Noël but it is more common to say Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année or simply Bonnes fêtes - Happy end of year celebrations.  So where-ever you are and however you celebrate Christmas ...

Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année ! 

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