In the XIXth century, festive meals featured as part of the family Christmas celebrations. The two main characteristics of these festivities were the abundance and variety of dishes. Whether from the town or the country, middle or working class, each family would ensure that the table was set with the most appetizing dishes it could afford.
In rural areas where families were often more numerous, preparations for "réveillon" and for Christmas dinner generally began in November with the fall butchery. Two weeks before Christmas, the mother, assisted by her eldest daughters, rolled up her sleeves to prepare delicious pastries. In town, however, preparations did not begin until December 10 when food and provisions needed to prepare for these two lavish meals would be bought.