In France, Brazil, Portugal, Romania, the province of Québec, many cities across Northern Ontario, the city of New Orleans, and some other French-speaking places, a réveillon is a long dinner, and possibly a party, held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil (meaning "waking"), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond. In Portuguese-speaking countries, it is also a designation for the party preceding the New Year's Day. In the United States, the réveillon tradition is still observed in New Orleans due to the city's strong French heritage, with a number of the city's restaurants offering special réveillon menus on Christmas Eve.
The food consumed at réveillons is generally exceptional or luxurious. For example, appetizers may include lobster, oysters, escargots or foie gras, etc. One traditional dish is turkey with chestnuts. Réveillons in Quebec will often include some variety of tourtière.
Dessert may consist of a bûche de Noël. In Provence, the tradition of the 13 desserts is followed: 13 desserts are served, almost invariably including: pompe à l'huile (a flavoured bread), dates, etc.
Quality wine is usually consumed at such dinners, often with champagne or similar sparkling wines as a conclusion.
There are certain traditional differences of character between the Christmas and New Year's Day réveillons.
Christmas is traditionally a Christian occasion, celebrated within the family, and this family character is retained even among non-believers.
The New Year's Eve, or Saint-Sylvestre, réveillon, on the other hand, is commonly a party with friends, etc. People may also go out to a cabaret show, or watch live relays of such shows on television.
In the State of Louisiana, the word Reveillon is trademarked by French Quarter Festivals, Incorporated (FQFI) as part of their Christmas New Orleans Style festival. Local restaurants work with the organization each year to create modern-day Reveillon menus, which are reviewed by a committee to ensure quality and historic authenticity. Use of the term Reveillon is strictly prohibited, without written permission from FQFI..
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