In Creole houses in the shade of the porch, stands a Christmas tree, not quite the same as elsewhere (either a branch of a casuarina tree, or a “cryptomeria” or an Araucaria conifer from Hawaii that withstands the intense heat of the tropics). Stars, garlands and other decorations adorn this “péi” tree, and they are sold on the roadside.
Midnight mass is celebrated in most churches on the island. According to custom, a nativity scene is displayed at home and one visits the one at the church.
The parties’ greatest symbol is the festive meal that today is part tradition and part innovation and is held in houses in restaurants, in guest houses or in farm-inns. Typical menus of the island are on the table (rice, curry, beans, rougail) , péi recipes (goose stew, turkey stew, guinea fowl curry ...) European cuisine (foie gras, salmon, oysters, turkey ...) and new flavors in addition to the lavish dinner (foie gras with vanilla, lychees with duck, duck breast with foie gras, bichiques curry, goldfish curry, lobster curry ...).
The day after the party, on 25 December, festive dishes are still on the lunch menu and often end with seasonal fruit (lychees, mangoes, victoria pineapples), or a Christmas log with exotic flavors, or a sweet potato chocolate mousse ... and many other Creole sweets .
December 24 at midnight, fireworks light up the starry sky of the Island of Reunion. Parties and folkloric entertainment, exotic cocktails, spicy dishes, and dinners with Creole flavours are organized in hotels and restaurants, and guest houses of the island. They offer you special moments.
For shopping / souvenirs, many towns of the island (Saint-Denis, Saint-Pierre, Cilaos, Saint-Benoit, Bras-Panon ...) organize a Christmas market, see the agenda of the IRT.