Dec 15, 2009

La Saint -Sylvestre

by Kimberley Lovato

-In French, New Year's Eve (31 December) is called la Saint-Sylvestre and is usually celebrated with a feast, called Le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre. You know me, I always choose feast over famine and this time of year, while the weather is certainly frightful, the feast is always delightful because Le Réveillon always includes special items like champagne and foie gras---two of my personal favorites. Foie Gras is French party food. America has its pigs in a blanket, the French have their goose liver. Que sera, sera! Whether it's a party for a group of friends or a dinner en famille for three, le Reveillon, like most meals in France, is a well thought out occasion and reason enough to give thanks for the old and raise a glass to the new. I know I have included a picture of a truffle to the right, and they are in season this time of year too! Another reason to celebrate. See my article about truffles in this month's Together Magazine.

At midnight, everyone kisses under the mistletoe (le gui).

On New Year's Day, le Jour de l'An, friends and family often meet for a meal (platters of shell fish are common) and share more kisses. The end of the holiday season is Epiphany, on 6 January, which includes a traditional cake called la galette des rois in which a plastic saint or baby jesus is imbedded. Whoever bites into the poor thing (and hopefully doesn't break a crown) gets to wear a paper crown.

History Lesson: Saint Sylvestre was Pope from 314 to 335 A.D but there is no real link between Saint Sylvestre and the new year; it just so happens that 31 December is his feast day. Pragmatic, non? La Saint-Sylvestre is feminine because it's short for LA fête de Saint-Sylvestre.

Of course it's feminine. All the finer things in life are.

Bonne Année ! Happy New Year!


Sharon said...

Sadly the Together site doesn't seem to load the current issue - which is a shame, because I would love to read about truffles! If you have another link, please post it or send it through.

Serge Lescouarnec said...

Just mentioned your site and this piece in When in France, New Year's Eve is La Saint Sylvestre on 'Serge the Concierge.

Bonne Annee
'The French Guy from New Jersey'

Kimberley Lovato said...

Sharon. Sorry about that. Go to and click on the current issue. And then you'll have to page through to find it. Let me know if it still doesn't work and I"ll let the 'powers that be' know. Thanks. Happy New Year.

Kimberley Lovato said...

Serge. Merci beaucoup. I hope your St Sylvestre was fantastic.

Sharon said...

Today it worked - nice piece! The Atelier of La Truffe Noire has been on my list since I moved to Brussels but I've never made it there. Guess I'll have to go now!