The French celebrate New Year with great gusto and revelry. Like everything else, right from their fashion sense to gourmet culinary talents, New Year celebrations are also carried out in a very chic and elegant style that leaves one absolutely enthralled. That is why the country's bedazzling capital Paris is ranked as one of the top destinations in the world, as far as New Year revelry is concerned. Here, New Year's Eve is known as 'la Saint-Sylvestre' and grand feasts, known as le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre, are organized on this day. These are attended by close friends and family members. In this congenial environment, filled with mutual love and warmth, the approaching year is welcomed in the French households.
The New Year's Day is known as Jour des Étrennes, which is celebrated on the January 1st, since the induction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, before which the French celebrated New Year at the onset of spring in the country, which is usually between the culmination of March and early days of April. The New Year Day celebrations are popularly referred to as 'Reveillion'. This wonderful event is counted as one of the oldest celebrated occasions throughout France; hence, it is an official public holiday. Vibrant celebrations commence on New Year's Eve and continue till January 6th. During these days, the atmosphere throughout France remains positively charged and people welcome the New Year with an optimistic mindset.
New Year Celebrations
As per the age-old tradition of New Year's Eve, a scrumptious, special festive cake, known as la galette des rois, is cut ceremoniously. In the magnificent feast of le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre held in the evening, many traditional French dishes are served to the guests. These culinary delights include pancakes and foie gras, which is a flavored dish made out of duck or goose. Along with these mouthwatering dishes, champagne and sparkling wine flows freely. In Southwestern France, celebrations take a unique twist, when after attending the evening mass, people form a torchlight procession and go to vineyards. Here at midnight, naturally ripe grapes are harvested and a strong, sweet wine is made, which is drunk as well as bottled with special labels proclaiming that its grapes were harvested on January 1st.
In more public celebrations of New Year, taking a cruise at midnight to welcome the New Year is becoming a passion in France. Various cruise-liners offer lavish facilities to their guests, who wish to celebrate the New Year's Eve in the middle of the vast expanse of the ocean. Many hire luxury boats to venture into various scenic canals that lace the landscapes of the country, to make their New Year's Eve most memorable and spectacular. Another marvelous celebration that one is absolutely enamored by is the two-day long vividly spirited parade organized in Paris every year on this occasion. This fabulous parade is participated in by thousands of locals and foreign visitors, along with various world renowned artists, which include musicians, dancers, singers, acrobats and numerous other performers. This extravagant colorful procession passes through various boulevards across Paris and ends with a great bang at Trocadéro, under the beautifully lit Eiffel Tower.
However, grand parades and public celebrations on New Year are not a common sight in all of France, as most of the French prefer to have private celebrations. Hence, a lot of people throw house parties, where close friends and family members are invited. Along with special New Year's feast, an evening ball, known as une soirée dansante, is organized. In these intimate parties, people sing, dance and have a gala time. It is also customary in France to exchange gifts with near and dear ones. One can present any appropriate thing on this day, like a New Year card, special cookies, cakes, bouquets, etc. Another worth mentioning custom followed during New Year celebrations is Poisson davit. This term literally stands for an 'April fish'. It started out as the practice of making a fool out of those who did not switch to celebrating New Year on January 1st, even after the state had officially declared so and stuck to the month of April as New Year. Today, however, this tradition has developed as a fun and entertainment time for young children in France, who play pranks with each other by sending fake gifts and invitations to each other. Thus, the New Year is welcomed with great cheer and festive mood all over France.
New Year is celebrated in France with such panache that people from all over the world visit this country to be a part of it.