Christmas in Europe is a time for feasting, and in France this begins with le réveillon on Christmas Eve. Stemming from the word réveiller meaning ‘to wake up’, this relaxed and extensive dinner is a carry over from the times when French Catholics would return home from Midnight Mass and satisfy their hunger pangs with a selection of tasty offerings. The tradition still stands today, with luxurious entrées of foie gras, oysters, snails, seafood, smoked salmon, or even caviar, followed by a plat principal such as roasted goose, capon or a game bird, a delectable assortment of fine French cheeses before concluding with a delicious Bûche de Nöel (or Yule Log) washed down with French wine or Champagne.
In Provence, le réveillon concludes with no less than thirteen different desserts (a number representative of Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles) and includes dried fruits, nougat and la pompe à huile, which is a sweet loaf flavoured with olive oil. In fact, the tradition of feasting for le réveillon is so well-loved that it is repeated again on New Year's Eve to ring in the New Year.