Christmas Eve in Quebec: The Reveillon

 le Réveillon de NoëlBy studying Christmas traditions around the world, event planners can get inspiration to breathe new life into their own Christmas events.

The Christmas season in the Province of Quebec is truly enchanting. A white Christmas is a given. From the flicker of of candlelight reflecting across  snow covered fields in the country to the twinkling of Christmas lights in homes and store windows in villages and urban areas, the setting is almost magical.

French families have retained the European tradition with celebration, the large meal and gift exchange on Christmas Eve. Families go to midnight mass together.


(Traditionally, there were bonfires to keep families warm and light their way as they went to church.) 

Today we look at le Reveillon de Noel. After mass, comes Le Reveillon (translated as "the awakening"), a large meal during which the family gathers to sing, play music and exchange gifts. Traditionally there was square-dancing.

This tradition dates back to the mid 19th century when there would be fasting on the day before taking communion at the Christmas even midnight mass. The meal, which traditionally would break the fast, consists of French Canadian delights like pea soup, headcheese, and, of course, tourtiere.

The meal ends with desserts that have become increasingly elaborate over the years. There is of course the traditional Buche de Noel (Yule log).

See  Buche de Noel video in English.

Sucre a la creme (a creamy maple syrup fudge) is often served as a sweet treat.

It may interest you to know that while the tradition has been dying out since the 1970s, some families with French Canadian roots in Vermont, New Hampshire and French, Haitian or French Canadian roots in New Orleans still observe it.

In New Orleans, gumbo, game meat, Daube glace (a jellied beef and veal stew), and other Creole dishes are included in the spread. For dessert there is fruit cake doused in rum, a French Caribbean tradition. The tradition, which died out in the 1930s, was revived in the 1990s with French Quarter restaurants offering traditional reveillon dinners.

For more posts about the Christmas season in the Province of Quebec, read Christmas in Montreal: Marvelous Merry Moments, Incentive Destinations: Christmas Season in Old Montreal, Incentive Travel: Perfect Picks for a Picture Perfect White Christmas.

Photo Credits: vincent-tSarah Kerr

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