Thalias Hospitality

Le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre – New Year Eve


“Pleasure without champagne is purely artificial.”
Oscar Wilde

On New Year’s Eve, Saint-Sylvestre, réveillon, is the French New Year’s eve party, usually held with family and friends it can be anything from a soiree at home or a gala ball full of costumes, glamour and dancing. This is France we are talking about and so, of course there is a magnificent meal of many courses, much wine and much revelry that must continue until well past midnight and well into the New Year’s Day.

Champagne flows throughout the evening; there may be other fine wines with the food and brandy as the digestive, but the feast will begin with Champagne on arrival and Champagne to ring in the New Year at midnight.

At 8 pm, the president of the French republic addresses the people of France on television, with the presidential greeting “Les voeux présidentiels”. This speech is broadcast from the Élysée Palace-the official residence of the French President and the French equivalent of the White House. During this presidential greeting, the president takes stock of the past year and expresses his political vision and his wishes for the future of France.

In French culture people will not start whishing everyone a happy New Year, “Bonne Année” until after midnight, never before. However, they may then go on to wish everyone a happy New Year and “best wishes”, (meilleurs Voeux) for the rest of the week! The exception is the president, who wishes his people a happy New Year during the presidential speech well before midnight.

Celtic druids believed in mistletoe’s mystical power to bring good luck and ward off evil, in France on New Year’s eve the tradition is to kiss under the mistletoe, “S’embrasser Sous le Gui” which is believed to bring good luck to both participants. At Midnight amidst all the cries of Bonne Année and the general cacophony people will begin kissing everyone around them. A ‘faire la bise’ is to give a kiss on the cheek and it is sometimes one or two on each cheek depending on what part of France you come from.

The ancient Babylonians are believed to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions some 4,000 years ago. In France it is customary to make resolutions about health, career, romance, travel and all manner of ambitions for the twelve months ahead.

New Year’s gifts called “Les étrennes” are given out during the first week of the New Year as a way to show gratitude to those people who serve us, are staff or simply take care of us throughout the year, sometimes this is in the form of cash and not dissimilar to the little ‘red pockets’ stuffed with money for Chinese New Year.

Another lovely French tradition at this time of year, (although mostly in the north) is the giving of ‘gaufre seche de nouvel ans’, cute little dried waffles offered to children in the neighbourhood or friends who drop by to wish you a happy New Year.

The highlight, is of course the magnificent dinner one can look forward to on New Year’s Eve; a traditional French New Year’s le réveillon, (wakening) menu will involve an exceptional presentation of the classic French dishes:

charcuterie, terrines, foie gras, Truffles, escargot, oysters, scallops, smoked salmon, shrimps, sea urchin, game, cheeses and dessert. This will be accompanied by a selection of appropriately matched fine wines throughout the feast.

The meal and the revelry will stretch on past midnight but, the celebration of the New Year will continue on for several days, until the 6th of January. The Epiphany marks the end of the celebrations and the feasts of réveillon; how else should we expect the French to acknowledge the occasion but with the baking of a cake!? The traditional ‘King’s Cake’, the famous ‘Galette des Rois’.

You May Also Like

A Wine for the Devil’s Throat

“The ancient Egyptians believed the god Anubis met each of us on the other side, and that he stood before a great scale on which our hearts were set. There each was weighed, tested for its worth. Was this the heart I wanted measured? “ Victor LaValle Anubis Anubis was an important deity to the Egyptians, depicted as a canine or a man with a canine’s head: he was the god of death and all pertaining to it, mummification, embalming, the afterlife, cemeteries, tombs, and the underworld. Anubis was the protector of graves, the one who would guide your soul…

The Eternal Lunch

“The sweetness of food does not last long, but the sweetness of good words do.” Thai Proverb Whilst I lived in Thailand some time ago, I became very fond of a local saying taught to me by my Thai friends; I cherished it, mostly because I could observe it in action almost every day. The saying went something like this: ‘Thais eat five meals a day with snacks in between and when we are not eating, we are thinking about our next meal’, this often preceded the additional comment; ‘it’s only funny because it’s true!’ Few could blame them, Thai…

April Heat Brings Juicy Treat

April is here and that means it’s Mango Season! This is a great chance to try famous Khmer mangos which are known for their sweet taste and juiciness. The mango harvest season is typically during March to April and from October to November. Mango trees have been cultivated in Cambodia thousands of years ago. It is a popular fruit usually eaten green or ripe with salt and chilli as a snack, shredded in a salad or with fish, and ripen with sticky rice as a dessert in Khmer cuisine. Eat it green, try them ripe, these stone fruits are packed…

Mr Boubier’s Butter

Rue de Mont Blanc, Geneva For the past 92 years, a charming little Cafe at #26, Rue de Mont-Blanc, just a short walk across the Rue de Cornavin from Geneva Central Station, (today wedged between a Starbucks, a Five Guys hamburger joint and a McDonalds), Café de Paris has been serving a simple dish with a complex secret, one that has seen it become an institution in Geneva and it fame and fortune all over the world. In 1981, the American novelist, Paul Erdman, wrote in ‘The Last Days of America’: “We went to a restaurant near the station, the…

Tradition and Evolution in Stung Treng’s Famed Ansorm Chrouk

Adapted from an article in Cambodge Mag Ansorm Chrouk cakes are traditionally made for festivals, weddings and big events, but Sophea now makes them all year round and in that way is able to provide employment for up to eight widows, retirees and children who would be able to save up for their studies In a recent article, the Phnom Penh Post celebrated the creations of Nget Sophea from Prek village in Stung Treng province. She has combined tradition and transformation in her version of Ansorm Chrouk, a steamed glutinous rice cake with pork, by mixing the rice with pandan leaf…

Wine Uby Dooby

For 3 generations, François Morel and his team have been working to give a human, environmental and sustainable orientation to the Uby estate. Located in the Gers, it takes its name from the stream that runs through the property’s land The Little Pond Terrapin The European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis), is a little freshwater turtle in the family Emydidae that is long lived and endemic to the Western Palearctic. In France, there is only one remaining population, making it is the most endangered reptile in the country. Climate has an effect on the survival of Pond Terrapin hatchling, which are…
Back to top