Happy New Year Celebration In France 2020
Happy New Year Celebration In France 2020 In France, the New Year’s celebration begins on the evening of December 31 (le réveillon du jour de l’an) and carries through January 1 (le jour de l’an). Traditionally, it’s a time for people to gather with family, friends, and community. New Year’s Eve is also known as La Saint-Sylvestre because December 31 is the feast day of Saint Sylvestre. France is predominantly Catholic, and as in most Catholic or Orthodox countries, specific days of the year are designated to celebrate specific saints and are known as feast days. Individuals who share a saint’s name often celebrate their namesake’s feast day like a second birthday. (Another noted French feast day is La Saint-Camille, shorthand for la fête de Saint-Camille. It’s celebrated on July 14, which is also Bastille Day.)
French New Year’s Eve Traditions
There aren’t too many traditions specific to New Year’s Eve in France however, one of the most important ones is kissing under the mistletoe (le gui) and counting down to midnight. While there’s no equivalent to the ball dropping in Times Square, in larger cities, there may be fireworks or a parade and there’s usually a big variety show on television featuring France’s most famous entertainers.
New Year’s Eve is most often spent with friends—and there may be dancing involved. (The French like to dance!) Many towns and communities also organize a ball which is often a dressy or costumed affair. At the stroke of midnight, participants kiss one another on the cheek two or four times (unless they are romantically involved). People may also throw des cotillons (confetti and streamers), blow into un serpentin (a streamer attached to a whistle), shout, applaud, and generally make a lot of noise. And of course, the French make “les résolutions du nouvel an” (New Year’s resolutions). Your list will, undoubtedly, include improving your French, or perhaps maybe even scheduling a trip to France—et pourquoi pas?
Typical New Year’s Gifts in France
In France, people don’t generally exchange gifts for the New Year, although some do. However, it’s traditional to give monetary gifts to postal workers, deliverymen, the police, household employees, and other service workers around Christmas and the New Year. These gratuities are called “les étrennes,” and how much you give varies greatly depending on your generosity, the level of service you got, and your budget.
French New Year’s Vocabulary
It’s still customary to send out New Year’s greetings. Typical ones would be:
- Bonne année et bonne santé (Happy New Year and good health)
- Je vous souhaite une excellente nouvelle année, pleine de bonheur et de succès. (I wish you an excellent New Year, full of happiness and success.)
Other phrases you’re likely to hear during New Year’s celebrations:
- Le Jour de l’An—New Year’s Day
- La Saint-Sylvestre—New Year’s Eve (and the feast day of Saint Sylvester)
- Une bonne résolution—New Year’s resolution
- Le repas du Nouvel An—New Year’s meal
- Le gui (pronounced with a hard G + ee)—mistletoe
- Des confettis—confetti
- Le cotillon—a ball
- Les cotillons—party novelties such as confetti and streamers
- Un serpentin—a streamer attached to a whistle
- Gueule de bois—hangover
- Les étrennes—Christmas/New Year’s Day present or gratuity
- Et pourquoi pas?—And why not?
New Year’s Eve meal and party
New Year’s Eve is almost always celebrated with a feast of rich foods.
Some people like to have their New Year’s feast in a quiet environment at home with family and close friends. Others like to go gang busters and party like it’s 1999 with extravagant parties, music and dancing. Costume parties are also popular at this time of year.
People often get dressed up for New Year’s Eve but it’s not a faux pas if you don’t, it just depends on the event you are attending. There’s even a French expression “se mettre sur son 31” which means “to dress up like it’s a New Year’s Eve party”. The closest equivalent in English is “to dress to the Nines”.
Whether you have a quiet family dinner or attend a loud costume party, there is inevitably going to be a feast of food and drink.
Although the food served at any New Year’s Eve feast will vary, there are some dishes which are more common than others and might be considered New Year’s Eve staple Dishes in France such as foie gras, oysters, crustaceans, smoked salmon, escargot and maybe even caviar if you’re host has the budget for it.
All of this rich food will of course be accompanied by Champagne or Crémant “sparkling wine” to drink during your meal and at the stroke of midnight to ring in the new year.
New Year’s eve soirée out on the town
If you don’t plan on throwing a New Year’s Eve house party or you’re not invited to one, there is no shortage of restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs and other special offerings on New Year’s Eve.
Most events cost money and you may be expected to dress up so check the dress code. Restaurants may have a special New Year’s Eve meal which will be more expensive than their regular menu. Bars and clubs may have special events planned also so check the local area’s list of events to see all your options.
It’s a good idea to make reservations or buy tickets in advance to secure your spot.
Kissing under the mistletoe
Thanks to the Druid Celts who believed mistletoe’s mystical powers brought good luck and warded off evil spirits, the French have a tradition which you probably already know about-kissing under the mistletoe “S’embrasser Sous le Gui”.
In France this tradition is usually reserved for New Year’s and not Christmas like it is in Anglo Saxon cultures.
By the way mistletoe in French, “GUI” is pronounced with a hard “G” like in the word Guide and rhymes with KEY.
Certain cities in France like Paris and Strasbourg are renowned for Fireworks however for security reasons after the terrorist attacks, many planned New Year’s Eve fireworks and festivities were cancelled including the famous Paris fireworks show.
That is until the end of 2017 New Years festivities. So double check just in case.
If you happen to be in Paris for New Year’s Eve and want to be at the centre of the party, the champs-Elysées is the place to be.
People start gathering to this famous avenue at around 9 pm on New Year’s Eve where you can get a great view of the Eiffel tower which displays a sparkling light show at the stroke of midnight.
There is also a sound and light show projected on to the The Arc de Triumphe at Place Charles de Gaulle off the Champs-Elysée which starts around 11 pm on New Year’s Eve.
For the end of year celebrations of 2017, the light and sound show is followed by fireworks but as I mentioned before, in past years parades and fireworks were cancelled due to security reasons so be sure and check to see the planned events.
It can get pretty rowdy and crowded on the famous avenue so if you are claustrophobic or don’t like crowds, this may not be the place for you. And be wary of pickpockets.
French Villages and Towns Celebrations
You don’t need to be in Paris to celebrate New years. All across France in French Villages and Towns, New Year’s Eve is celebrated in a variety of ways from parades and fireworks to dances and light shows.
Check the official homepage of the city you are in to see what festivities are offered.
Watch The New Year’s Greetings From The President Of France On T.V.
Every year at 8 pm, the president of the French republic addresses the people of France on TV with a presidential greeting “Les vœux présidentiels”.
This speech is broadcast from the Élysée Palace-the official residence of the French President and the French equivalent of the White House.
During this presidential greeting, the president takes stock of the past year and expresses his political vision and his wishes for the future of France.
Kissing at midnight like a French person
In most Anglo Saxon and Western cultures, it’s customary for people to give a New Year’s kiss at the stroke of midnight . There’s even a superstition which says failing to kiss someone will lead to a year of loneliness.
In France the tradition is a little more complicated because you don’t just kiss one person, it’s tradition to “faire la bise” (cheek kiss ) with EVERYONE at midnight.
For example, if you are at a house gathering, at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve, everyone will run around saying Bonne Année while giving you a French cheek kiss “la bise”.
Depending on the region of France, you should give anywhere from 2 to 4 alternating cheek kisses. In Provence it’s 2, In Montpellier it’s 3 and in some parts of France it’s 4. I know it’s complicated.
You could say that La Bise is kind of the French version of a hug but not really.
The exception for “La Bise” is if you are at a street gathering, club or bar where everyone is strangers. In this case you could shake hands and wish people standing near you a Happy New Year and only kiss the friends and family whom you are with.
You can start wishing people “Happy New Year”
In most English speaking countries, you can utter the words “Happy New Year” well before the actual new year begins. In France this isn’t so.
Instead you will hear friends, family and shopkeepers say the words “bonnes fêtes de fin d’année” which basically means Happy end of year Holidays.
Only after the stroke of midnight on December 31st will French people actually wish you a Happy New Year (Bonne Année) followed by “best wishes”(meilleurs Voeux).
The exception is the president who wishes his people a happy new year in his presidential new years greetings before the New Year begins at 8 pm on the 31st of Decembre.