A réveillon (French: [ʁevɛjɔ̃] (listen)) is a long dinner held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Its name derives from the word réveil (meaning "waking"), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond.
The practice is observed in Belgium, France, Brazil, in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, the city of New Orleans, and some other French-speaking places. In Portuguese-speaking countries, it is also a designation for the party preceding New Year's Day. In the United States, the réveillon tradition is still observed in New Orleans due to the city's strong French-Canadian heritage, with a number of the city's restaurants offering special réveillon menus on Christmas Eve.
The term is first documented in 18th century France, and was used by the French as a name for the night-long party dinners held by the nobility. Eventually the word began to be used by other courts (amongst them the Portuguese courts) and after the French Revolution it was adopted as a definition of the New Year's Eve.
The food consumed at réveillons is generally exceptional or luxurious. For example, appetizers may include lobster, oysters, escargots or foie gras, etc. One traditional dish is turkey with chestnuts. Réveillons in Quebec will often include some variety of tourtière.
Dessert may consist of a Yule log, known as a bûche de Noël. In Provence, the tradition of the thirteen desserts is followed: 13 desserts are served, almost invariably including pompe à l'huile (a flavoured bread), dates, etc.
Quality wine is usually consumed at such dinners, often with champagne or similar sparkling wines as a conclusion.
There are certain traditional differences of character between the Christmas and New Year's Day réveillons.
Christmas is traditionally a Christian occasion, celebrated within the family, and this family character is retained even among non-believers.
The New Year's Eve, or Saint-Sylvestre, réveillon, on the other hand, is commonly a party with friends, etc. People may also go out to a cabaret show, or watch live relays of such shows on television.
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