Soon time for the second “reveillon” of the season! A “reveillon” is not just “the night before” or a party. It is really a family meal that starts in the evening and goes on into the small hours of the following day; and at this time of year the French celebrate first the “Reveillon de Noël” (Xmas Eve) and then the “Reveillon du Nouvel An” (New Year’s Eve), which is also known as “la St Sylvestre” as 31 December is the feast day of St Sylvestre.
In this part of France Xmas Eve is usually celebrated at home with a family meal, usually rounded off with a sickly sweet, buttery cream sponge cake in the shape of a log – the “bûche de Noël”. This is sometimes followed by a lunch out at a restaurant on Xmas Day itself, for those who can face it after the night before.
New Year’s Eve, however, is frequently celebrated with a night out at a restaurant, and all the local eateries have been advertising their special St Sylvestre menus for several weeks now. Seafood features heavily – especially oysters – and often there is some form of entertainment laid on. If you can get a noise out of an accordion then you’re guaranteed a gig at this time of year. if it’s a recognisable tune, even better (see below).
Incidentally, here’s a traditional French New Year song, belted out to exactly the same tune as “Auld Lang Syne” and with just the same sentiments. Did Burns, who penned Auld Lang Syne, and who was a known Jacobite with French sympathies, get his inspiration from the French version, or vice versa? I’d be interested to know if anyone has the answer.
Meantime, Happy New Year and Bonne Année!
|Faut-il nous quitter sans espoir,
Sans espoir de retour?
Faut-il nous quitter sans espoir
De nous revoir un jour?
Chorus (see below)
Les vieux amis du temps passé,
Formons de nos mains qui s’enlacent,
Amis, unis par cette chaîne,
Car l’idéal qui nous rassemble
Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, mes frères,
Au bon vieux temps mes chers amis,
|Must we take leave without hope,
Without any hope of returning?
Must we take leave without hope
Of seeing one another again?
Chorus (see below)
Old friends from times gone by,
Let’s make from our clasped hands
Friends, linked by this chain,
For the spirit that brings us together
It’s only “see you soon”, brothers,
To the good old days my dear friends,