French Culture – New Year’s Traditions
On this deuxième jour de janvier (second day of January), I’d like to start off by wishing everyone une très bonne année! (a very Happy New Year!) New Year’s provides the French with not one, but two more chances to do what they do best . . . celebrate!
Like most festive French holidays, New Year’s (both le Réveillon et le jour de l’An / New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day) feature great food and, of course, Champagne!* Many French New Year’s feasts also feature a (or many!) big platter(s) of freshly shucked huîtres (oysters). Shipped fresh from the ports of la Bretagne (Brittany), les huîtres are a favourite of the French for the holidays
Les mois sans ‘r’
While oysters are now consumed year-round, historically eating oysters (and other seafood) in the warmer months could be dangerous for those living far from the shore (no refrigeration meant that delicate seafood could easily spoil in transport). Oysters also reproduce when the water around them gets warm (generally in mid-spring and summer months of mai, juin, juillet, et août / May, June, July, and August) and some find that oysters are not as good at this this time. These two facts resulted in a common French tradition of avoiding oysters in les mois sans ‘r’/months without an ‘r’!
Le saviez-vous? / Did you know?
Le jour de l’An (New Years Day) was not always January 1st. For centuries, the start of the year varied from country to country and even sometimes by region. In parts of France the new year once started on April 1 (and some say that the tradition of le poisson d’avril dates from this period). It wasn’t until the late 16th century, when Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar we know today, that January 1 was officially established as the start of the new year (at least throughout the Christian world).
* While most wine-producing countries have some form of vin mousseux/sparkling wine (Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain; even France has vin mousseux produced in regions outside Champagne ), Champagne is only Champagne if it is produced in the French region of the same name.
Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.