Lately I’ve been thinking about France after the attacks in Paris and the amazing times I have had there. France has always held a special place in my heart—French was the first language I learned and the place I most wanted to visit when heading to Europe. I thought I would write a little bit about French New Year’s Eve traditions and what you can expect if you are planning on visiting over the holidays.
Reveillon de Saint-Sylvestre
One of the things I love most about the French is their love of food. Every year on New Year’s Even, a feast is planned named after Saint Sylvester. You’ll usually be able to enjoy dishes like pancakes and fois gras, and the champagne just keeps coming throughout the night. The feast is meant to bring prosperity to everyone who attends, so it might be a good idea to meet a French friend or two for the holiday so you might be invited to the feast.
In the south western part of France, you’ll most likely find an evening procession headed to the vineyards. Most often it is a parade that you can join in on and you are almost always guaranteed a glass of mulled wine at the end of the procession.
Finally, French families tend to end the night with a cake called la galette des rois (or “King Cake”). Many countries have adopted this kind of cake, but it originated in France. This delectable tradition includes a lot of cinnamon and a bean baked into the cake. If you end up getting the slice with the bean, you are said to have extraordinarily good luck throughout the next year.
New Year’s Eve in France is usually pretty private. The French prefer to get together with their friends and family and eat compared to going out and partying like we Americans tend to do during the holiday. However, you’ll find more going on in cities like Paris, and the tradition of taking a river or ocean cruise with friends has become increasingly popular. Paris also includes a two-day parade with artists, musicians, performers and many more joining in.
The French also tend to give small gifts to friends and family on New Year’s Eve. If you plan on seeing some of your friends that day, you might want to give them a plate of cookies or cakes. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it should require a little time and effort.
Have you ever been to France during New Year’s Eve?