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Christmas Day

Midnight Mass

I clearly remember attending three masses, the first one starting at midnight, before we were alowed to return home for the traditional Réveillon. The mothers left after the first or second one to rush home and finish preparing the meal.


This nocturnal meal, eaten after the Midnight Mass in France and Canada, originally consisted of a simple snack of biscuits or a piece of tourtière, along with a hot drink. With the years, this snack has been transformed little by little into a more lavish and elaborate meal. The same dishes that are served at Christmas dinner are also served at réveillon, which is essentially limited to family. After I moved into the US, we continued this tradition for many years.

Christmas Dinner

A very elaborate dinner always taken at the house of my paternal grandparents (L'Heureux). Turkey with veal was the main dish and tourtieres were served as a side dish. A Buche de Noël (Yule Log) was served for desert along with many other pastries.

New Year's Day

La Guignolée

Autrefois, la veille du Jour de l'An, les jeunes gens partaient courir la guignolée de maison en maison pour recueillir des victuailles pour les pauvres.

La Benediction Paternelle

Le Jour des Rois - Epiphany - January 6

In Quebec, the end of Christmas is called La fete des Roi (on the 6th of January). For this you make a cake which has a bean inside it. The person who gets the bean is the king (or queen). This is the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas and the start of Carnaval which will end at Mardi-Gras.

La Kermesse

Forme de foire caractérisée le plus souvent par son allure de fête et par une intention moins commerciale que philanthropique ou folklorique.


I am listing them here as they come off the top of my head as I remember from my youth in Québec. Many of these traditions may have not survived in the US. I would appreciate if the Franco readers would share with us their experiences.

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Last modified: March 22, 2013