They came every New Year’s Day and I loved it. All of them were either French or Belgian. The tradition said that you paid your visit to relatives and friends who were older than you were. So after the group visited at one house, the hosts there joined the merry-makers to proceed to the home of the next older for the toasts.
The glasses of wine, often the host’s best home-made variety, were extended in joyous toasts of "Bonne Annee" and "Bonne Sante" -- the greatest good wish one man could bestow on another -- "to a good year and to good health."
For those who think that a designated driver is a contemporary innovation -- let me assure you that one person from each group did not imbibe, so that all could be driven safely to the next house. Galettes (waffle cookies) and pain d’almonds (literally almond bread, but actually almond cookies) were usually served with the wine. The designated "tee-totaler for the day" must have had his spirits lifted by the sugar in the cookies, because I remember that he had as large a smile and engaged just as fully in the joyous repartee as all the rest.
Although this is a memory of my early childhood -- 65 years ago -- it still brings a smile to my face, as well as delight to my heart
© 1990 Olga S. Hardman