If you traveled back in time two hundred years ago with the Ghost of Christmas past, you’d likely find a very Catholic New Orleans feasting well into the early morning hours of Christmas day. The tradition was Reveillon which comes from the French word reveiler – “to wake.” In France the term dates back centuries and was originally used to describe an early breakfast following midnight mass on Christmas Eve. This tradition was continued by Creole families in New Orleans. It nearly always occurred in a private home and consisted of multiple courses, usually with a soup (to warm you on a cold December night), followed by a duck dish or veal grillades, leading to dessert. Still to this day in Provence, France they end their Reveillon celebration with 13 desserts (now that’s a celebration!)
By mid-19th century, with the large influx of Americans and changing customs, Réveillon became less popular. By the turn of the twentieth century it was just about forgotten…But New Orleanians are fierce protectors of their history and culture and have a way of recalling the past. French Quarter Festivals revived the tradition, or at least a version of the tradition, asking restaurants to prepare traditional (or mostly traditional) multi-course menus to be served throughout the month of December.
View our Reveillon menus here: Palace Café, Bourbon House, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Tableau.
We love joining in the cheer of the holidays with traditions, which not only include Reveillon, but also include our custom jingle bells. All the cousins in the Brennan family participate by having their respective restaurants dole out souvenir bells to all weekday lunch guests. The jingling clatter of the dining room creates an infectious joy that just screams holiday cheer. But don’t take our word for it, come and experience the fun at Palace Café, Bourbon House, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse and Tableau this holiday season. Speaking of Tableau, they have their very own holiday tradition that includes a giant mistletoe holding court on the corner of Chartres and St. Peter, right on Jackson Square. Come for a kiss and stay for dinner!