Saint Sylvester

In some countries it is called New Year’s Eve, in some Old Year’s Night, take your pick but in  France, New Year’s Eve (31 December) is called la Saint-Sylvestre* and is usually celebrated with a feast, called le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre. The feast tends to include special items like champagne  and foie gras, and the accompanying party can range from an intimate dinner with friends to une soirée dansante (ball).
At midnight, everyone kisses under the mistletoe** and offers their best wishes for the new year.On New Year’s Day, le Jour de l’An, friends and family share their New Year’s resolutions and may also exchange cards and gifts.The end of the holiday season is Epiphany, on 6 January, which in France includes a traditional cake called la galette des rois

La Galette – a pastry cake with a charm hidden in it. The person at the dinner tale who gets this charm, is blessed for the year!

*Saint Sylvestre was Pope from 314 to 335 A.D., during the time of Constantine the Great. There is no particular link between Saint Sylvestre and the New Year; it just so happens that 31 December is his feast day. La Saint-Sylvestre is feminine because it’s short for la fête de Saint-Sylvestre.

**Interestingly, kissing under the mistletoe is a New Year’s custom in France, rather than a Christmas custom as in other countries.

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