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Joyeuse Année!

Here’s how the French celebrate the New Year!

So Christmas is over, and now we look ahead to the New Year. Each country has their own way of marking the end of one year, and welcoming in the new year, so if you are planning on spending the remainder of 2016 into 2017 across the Channel what can you expect?

So Christmas is over, and now we look ahead to the New Year. Each country has their own way of marking the end of one year, and welcoming in the new year, so if you are planning on spending the remainder of 2016 into 2017 across the Channel what can you expect?

Of course, if you are in Paris, then you can expect to see one of the most spectacular displays in the world. There’s a reason why hundreds of thousands of people descend on the French capital each year.

Aside from that, however, how do French families celebrate? New Year is called la Saint-Sylvestre, and is usually celebrated with a feast and party as we do here in the UK.

If you are invited for a dinner, you’re more than likely going to be having a wonderful spread, potentially turkey, goose or even venison, accompanied by smoked salmon, oysters, and of course, Champagne! It’s an occasion for dressing up in party outfits, and pulling out all the stops when it comes to food and drink.

It is believed that this special dinner brings prosperity and good luck to all those attending the feast.

In some parts of France, you may find an evening procession, with many people lining the road, with lots of singing and dancing, and in wine country, the procession may well make its way to the local vineyard where the celebrations continue.

At midnight, it’s tradition to have a kiss under the mistletoe, or gui, but aside from that, then there’s nothing more set in stone apart from counting down to the stroke of twelve, and then popping streamers, and generally having a good time!

Paris fireworks
Paris fireworks

If you are looking to grab some retail bargains in the shops, then unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait until the new year, as Boxing Day sales don’t exist the other side of the Channel.

So you’ll have more time to relax and spend time with family and friends without having to worry about missing out on the deals!

But once New Year’s Day has arrived, that’s not the end of it. The celebration of Epiphany occurs on 6 January, and whilst in the UK this is the date when all Christmas celebrations should be down, the party is just starting again in France!

As mentioned in our last blog, a traditional cake is eaten, called la galette des rois, made from puff pastry.

Inside is a token which will be found by one of the people eating the cake. In the past, this was a dried bean, now, it is typically a small china doll, called a fève, and whoever finds it is crowned as the King or Queen. They must wear a crown, and then choose their partner. Then the party can be taken to the King or Queen’s house, and the party repeated all over again. This can last for up to two weeks!

So what better way to spend the New Year? Fine food and wine, and good company.

We at Belle France hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and wish you all the best for a prosperous 2017.

Joyeuse Année!
Joyeuse Année!
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