It might seem odd, Esteemed Readers, however the 17th century French did not celebrate Christmas & New Year. Fabulous celebrations with Christmas trees, presents & Santa Claus appeared only in the 19th century, on the eve of the Progress Age.
Louis XIV, his Court & Subjects regarded Christmas as a serious religious feast, which main elements were a sermon, a solemn Mass & a dinner. The last one took place after the Christmas Lent & could hardly be called magnificent. Other feasts that might seem rather unimportant to us had far richer menus. And, of course, nobody would have share with you any Christmas cards or even Christmas greetings similar to those of our time. Only the King might give some special gifts or graces on this occasion.
The New Year was just an ordinary day, a beginning of a new calendar. It was so miserable that is mentioned in news or reports only in connection with great affairs. For example, the New Year 1678 was famous with the end of the Dutch War and so celebrated all over the kingdom. The Mercure Galant dedicated its first 1678 edition to these exciting tidings. That’s how the Kingdom met the Peace after 6 years of a weary war:
“I would inform you, Madame, (the Great Dauphine’s wife), as you are not aware of it, that they say only about divertissements in each town of the Kingdom taken place on occasion of the Peace publishing. It was done in Montpellier on the 11th of last month & was accompanied with costume performances. The City Assembly was invited by Cardinal de Bonfi the day before, so they prayed for Mrs (Messires) Royal Commissioners in the Cathedral, where Te Deum was chanted. Mr (Monsieur) the Bishop of Montpellier performed his religious rite very solemnly. I won’t go into details neither about a great cavalcade of Merchants, who burst with joy, nor about a true feast arranged by the Citizens.
I would only mention that all Mrs Prelates were at His Eminence at 6 o’clock in the evening…They listened to some excellent music proceeded with a supper, served with a great magnificence. They departed at 10 o’clock, yet there were fireworks, illuminations & Bals for the whole City with wine fountains in the squares…Mr le Comte du Roure also arranged a fabulous celebration. He arranged a comedy for Ladies & it was followed with a great supper and the Bal. Everything was accompanied with fireworks, illuminations & wine fountains for People…”
Merry Christmas to all of you, Esteemed Readers no matter the century you live in! May it be a wonderful time full of wine fountains, pleasant surprises & joy!
MERRY CHRISTMAS! VIVE LE ROY! 🙂 🙂 🙂