Le Réveillon de Noël
Le Réveillon De Noël – christmas Eve
Le Réveillon de Noël is similar to Christmas Eve in other cultures. In France, they celebrate Le Réveillon… on the 24th December with family or close acquaintances in the form of a large meal. In Catholic traditions, there may also be a midnight mass. However, the meal is very important and is a rather festive occasion. Children also put out their shoes rather than their Christmas stockings. The Père Noël can then fill the shoes up with little treats or presents. (Have a look at our article on Santa in France here.)
The French culinary traditions for Christmas are rather different to what you might be used to. The starter for a Christmas Eve meal is usually seafood such as oysters and smoked salmon or perhaps a foie gras. The main meal is more familiar: the Christmas turkey, but goose or lobster are also popular. For dessert, you would have a “buche de Noël”, or a “Yule log”. It is a chocolate Swiss roll with extra decoration and chocolate on the outside to make it look like an actual log.
Le Réveillon de Noël is also not a public holiday in France, so some may have to work unless they have taken the day off or the company has allowed it. But everyone is generally in a festive mood anyway! And it’s hard not to be, what with all the Christmas markets and decorations starting from the end of November. Work tends to be very slow from around the 22nd December up until the 6th of January. This is also the Christmas vacation period for children and students, so everyone can spend the holidays together.
There can also be regional differences in how the French celebrate Christmas, have a look at the Provençal traditions here.
Or click HERE to discover more French traditions.