One of my favorite annual traditions is, but of course, French. Not only is it French, it also involves wine.
Having lived in Paris for a year and dated a Frenchmen (make that a Parisian) for a year (that makes two years of assimilation), I have witnessed the strikes (les grèves), many variations of tartare, some very cerebral films (les amants règuliers comes to mind), runny egg yolks, among other je ne sais quoi. . . very French things.
One ritual that I love involves French pastry. It is called Galette des Rois, which a frangipane filled tart that is eaten on the day of the Epiphany (the first Sunday of the New Year). A fève (nowadays a plastic trinket of a king) is baked inside the cake. The cake is to be divided into equal parts and served completely, except for one piece. Whoever eats the piece with the fève inside gets to act like the roi (king) and boss everyone around for the day. As well as, I suppose, eat the remaining slice of galette.
But let's get to the wine. The galette story was just an amuse-bouche. One of my favorite French things is Beaujolais Nouveau. Once a year, on the third Thursday of November, this wine is released. It is fermented right before its arrivé (arrival). It is intended for immediate drinking (this I like!) The Beaujolais wine indicates the quality of the year's regional wine harvest. In Paris, cafes were crowded on Beaujolais day. The first bottles were opened when the clock struck midnight and people drank up, speculating whether it would be a good year for viticulture. Regardless of the verdict, it is always a fun night. I am sipping on some 2011 right now and I think it is going to be a good year. Santé!