How the French Celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve

History of Réveillon

Réveillon is a long dinner and party, held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Belgium, Brazil, France, Portugal, Romania, the province of Québec, many cities across Northern Ontario, the city of New Orleans, and some other French-speaking places celebrate this holiday. The name of this dinner is based on the wordréveil (meaning "waking"), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond. In Portugese-speaking countries they celebrate Réveillon on New Year's Eve. In the U.S., Réveillon is mainly observed in New Orleans due to the city's strong French heritage, with a number of their restaurants offering a special Réveillon menu on Christmas Eve.

Typical Dinner Table on Réveillon

The food on Réveillon is exceptional and luxurious. Everything is fancy.



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Appetizer 1: Lobster

Lobster is an expensive meal and this holiday is celebrated with eating expensive foods.


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Appetizer 2: Oysters

Most of the oyster beds were destroyed by the early 20th century, so they are very scarce. This scarcity has lead prices to increase. While they were originally working-class food, now they are an expensive delicacy. Only high-status foods are served on Réveillon.

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Appetizer 3: Foie gras

Foie gras is a popular and well-known delicacy in French cuisine. Its flavor is described as rich, buttery, and delicate, unlike that of an ordinary duck or goose liver.


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Main Dish: Turkey with Chestnuts

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Dessert: Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake)

The Yule Log Cake can date back as far as Europe’s Iron Age. Even before the medieval era, people would gather in the end of December to welcome Winter Solstice. This would mark the end of winter season and welcome the new year. Bûches are often served with a portion of one end of the cake cut off and set on top of the cake or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped off branch. This cake is very popular to serve during Christmas in France.


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Champagne is an expensive and classy drink that is served on Réveillon.