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.
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.
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.
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.