History of Le Réveillon

Réveillon is a French (Creole) tradition of breaking fast and eating a night-time meal after the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

This nineteenth century tradition is still celebrated within France and in many French Quarters around the world, including Canada and New Orleans in America.


The tradition of Réveillon, a French word meaning ‘awakening’, can be traced back to the mid-1800s when elaborate meals were eaten by families to break a day long fast when they returned home from Church after the Midnight Mass. This custom was aptly named Réveillon because it re-energized the participants who had maintained abstinence through the day.

This meal is normally limited to include only the family members. Dishes such as chicken and oyster gumbo, game pies, soups, soufflés and Creole specialties like daube glace are part of the main menu. The meal generally ends with lavish desserts of cakes filled with fruit confection, redolent with wine or rum, with a topping of whipped cream.

With the passage of years this meal has become more and more elaborate and lavish and vies for a pride of place with the family Christmas dinner.

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