New Year’s Traditions in France
Celebrating the New Year is a little different in France than in the US.
Cards. French people don’t send Christmas cards; they send New Year’s greeting cards instead. So if you are sending cards to folks in France, you don’t have to rush. People in France continue to wish each other la bonne année throughout the month of January! No interaction is complete in France in the month of January without prefacing it with Meilleurs voeux (Best wishes)
Etrennes.It is a common practice in France to give gifts of money to people who serve you on a regular basis: the mail carrier, the concierge of your apartment building, your local firemen, even the garbage man (les éboueurs). It’s the equivalent of their 13th month, and the French tend to be quite generous.
Le Réveillon. Christmas Eve dinner is known as le réveillon … and so is New Year’s Eve dinner! To distinguish the two, the celebration on the 31st is called la Saint- Sylvestre, or le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre, simply because the last day of the year happens to be that saint’s feast day. The festive meal is similar to the one shared on Christmas – goose or turkey, oysters, foie gras – with the addition of champagne, bien sûr, and dancing and partying long into the night; it’s at least 4 hours longer, usually longer. Metros and public transportation in the large cities are free for the evening to discourage drivers from taking to the road in their cars after imbibing.
Midnight.At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, expect to receive kisses on both cheeks and a hearty bonne année! Fireworks have been surpressed in the past years, however, due to the dangers, so the evening tends to be a private one amongst friends.
Le Jour de l’AnOn New Year’s Day – le jour de l’an – parades fill the streets which you can watch in person, if you don’t mind the cold, or on TV from the comfort of your living room!
Bonne année à tous et à toutes!