31st December in France is traditionally celebrated in France with a feast – you will not be surprised to hear that I’m sure! Known as the Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre the French tend to push the boat out for this particular feast and it will often include oysters, goose or duck, foie gras and of course champagne.
It’s called the Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre or Saint Sylvester’s Eve because the 31st December is Saint Sylvester’s day. He had nothing to do with New Year’s Eve, it’s just coincidence. The Saint’s day was chosen before New Year’s Eve was fixed as 31 December – before the 16th Century New Year’s Day was considered to be around Easter time.
Le Réveillon will often go on for several hours and at midnight, everyone kisses under the mistletoe and offers their best wishes for the New Year and it’s traditional to continue to wish everyone you meet a bonne année pretty much throughout the whole of January.
In my little village there is a party at the Town Hall. The music starts around 20.00 hours, the usual chica boom boom stuff and it’s so loud you can probably hear it in neighbouring villages. The year before last me and my English friend Katy who was staying with us, decided to go and see what it was all about. We weren’t sure whether it was okay to just go in or not so we decided to look in the windows which are about 6 feet off the ground. I can’t remember who climbed on whose shoulders but we were in hysterics laughing and what we discovered had us rolling on the floor. Massive megawatt loud music, coloured lights from every window: three men, alone, playing cards at a small table in the middle of the room!
It turns out that most people don’t get there til quite late, after le grand dinner. Consequently the music goes on until the wee small hours of the morning and I may well go and join in and see if anyone actually does turn up and dance or if those same three men will be there again, alone, playing cards…
This year I’ll be preparing for Le Réveillon at home.
Bonne année à tous et à toutes!