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Posts tagged ‘Père Noël’

No. 94: Le Réveillon


All day yesterday (Christmas Eve), the friendly Martiniquais were wishing each other (and us) un bon Réveillon. Le Réveillon is the huge feast traditionally following la Messe de Minuit.

Although not many of my French friends attend midnight mass, they certainly wouldn’t miss out on le Réveillon. The meal can run into the wee hours of the morning, and usually includes a pause for the older children (the little ones are already tucked in bed) to open their presents from Père Noël.

In Paris le Réveillon is not for the faint of heart (or for the vegetarian in your life). No self-respecting Réveillon would be complete without foie gras, oysters, smoked salmon, a chestnut stuffed capon, turkey, or goose, and possibly some assortment of wild game.

For some families this late evening meal is the gastronomic highlight of the entire year.

This year we stuck to our family tradition of fondue, followed by snuggling together to watch a Christmas movie (usually A Christmas Story, but this year It’s a Wonderful Life), while happily ensconced in our petite maison en Martinique.

While each region in mainland France has its own slight variation on the traditional Christmas menu (in Provence, apparently it includes 13 dessert!), the Réveillon en Martinique is made up of an entirely different menu.


I’m lucky enough to know this because our landlords here (or our Martiniquais grandparents) were kind enough to recreate le Réveillon for Christmas lunch today. After four appetizers and five main course dishes, we all had the top button of our pants undone. The highlights of the feast included accras (fried fish and vegetable dumplings), petits patés Créole (bite sized savory meat pies, filled with langoustine, shrimp or pork), smoked caramelized ham, cooked yellow-fleshed bananas with tender pork ragu, and of course, Punch coco.

On my I-don’t-think-I’ll-eat-that-again list: Boudin noir —a fat sausage of spicy pig’s blood.

Donc, a Christmas very well spent. I am so grateful for our new friends, this wonderfully diverse country and all the marvelous encounters we have had along the way.

Joyeux Noël à toutes et à tous une bonne nuit.


Joyeux Noël à toutes et à tous une bonne nuit. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

la Messe de Minuit: midnight mass

le Reveillon: Christmas/New Year’s Eve feast, literally, eve, from the verb réveiller, to wake up, awaken, or revive.

petite maison en Martinique: small house in Martinique


No. 85: Edible Christmas Windows

These Christmas windows aren’t just for licking, they are for eating.









No. 79: Santa en mass


We ran across some great holiday cheer outside of Paris yesterday. Or I should say Superman and his best buddy Nigel ran across it, or more accurately, in it.

The Corrida de Noël, is an annual 10k race where the reason to run is the tacky Santa suit that comes with the race registration fee. This is one race where your finish time doesn’t matter, but your tribute to Père Noël makes all the difference in the world.


This year there were over 5,000 runners who ticked the racing box for the course déguisée and ran the race dressed as Old Saint Nick.

And why not? Where else but in France would you get to smoke and drink mulled wine before the race even starts.


 What a great way to sprint to Christmas…only 8 more days until Kris Kringle makes his way down your chimney.



course déguisée: the disguised/costumed race


No. 74: Père Noël’s Reindeer

…and what about Père Noël and his renne (reindeer)?



Well naturally some of them have different names in French, but to make things even easier for Santa on his big night,  the French have assigned each reindeer an unique attribute, just to make sure things run smoothly…

… et alors, you know…

TORNADE, le plus rapide, the quickest – DASHER

DANSEUR, la plus gracieuse, the most graceful—DANCER

FURIE, le plus puissant, the most powerful—PRANCER

FRINGANT, belle et puissante, the beautiful and powerful—VIXEN

COMÉTE, qui apporte le bonheur aux enfants, who brings children happiness—COMET

CUPIDON: qui améme l’amour aux enfant, who brings children love—CUPID

TONNERRE, le plus fort, the strongest (thunder)—DONNER

ÉCLAIR, qui apporte la lumière, who brings light, (lightning)—BLITZEN

…but do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all…RODOLPHE LE RENNE AU NEZ ROUGE…


And even though in English, the carol starts by introducing the reindeer one-by-one, in French, it starts this way, while sung to the same familiar tune:

Quand la neige recouvre la verte Finlande,

Et que les rennes traversent la lande,

Le vent dans la nuit

Au troupeau parle encore de lui

When snow covers green Finland

         And reindeer cross the moor

         The night wind

         Still talks to the herd about him…

Take a look here to see the whole song in action. Amusez-vous!



Amusez-vous! Have fun!

Père Noël: Father Christmas, Santa Claus



No. 73: Fun Christmas Words

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a language post, but I’ve come across several holiday words and phrases in the last few days that have made me grin. Here is a petite sample:

le bonhomme de neige, a good old chap made of snow (or in this case lights)

le bonhomme de neige, a good old chap made of snow (or in this case lights)

  • Un bonhomme de neige: a snowman, but literally a snow “chap”, “fellow”, or “old sport”.  I love the jovial image that one conjures up, and it makes me wonder if a gingerbread man is called “un bonhomme pain d’épice”, because, after all, they are quite jolly fellows too. (Please do let me know.)IMG_2201
  • Noël sous le neige: white Christmas, but literally “Christmas under the snow.” How I love Christmas when it is under the snow!
  • canne à sucre: a candy cane, but literally a sugar stick, nothing like calling a spade a spade.IMG_2218
  • Père Fouettard: the boogeyman (who tags along with Saint Nicolas, and depending on the family, hands out coal to the naughty children, or in the worse case scenario, flogs the child); literally “father spanker” or “father whipper”.Hans_Trapp
  • Noël malin: Christmas sales, but literally “shrewd Christmas”; obviously only for those clever enough to shop the sales.