Esquimalt hosts levée on Jan. 1

The levée dates back to 16th century France, but Canadian observance usually held on New Year’s Day.

Tammy Schuster

Victoria News

New Year’s Day has its host of traditions.  A day to start a year of fitness and health goals, or a day of movies and take-out.

For Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, her New Year’s Day tradition is hosting the levée at Esquimalt Municipal Hall.

“Tradition is something people value,” said Desjardins, “and this has been a tradition for a long, long time in Esquimalt.”

The levée dates back to 16th century France, but has mostly become a Canadian observance held on New Year’s Day.

The word levée means “rising” in French and originated in the Levée du Soleil (Rising of the Sun) of King Louis XIV. It was his custom to receive his public in his bedchamber just after rising, a practice that spread throughout Europe.

Esquimalt has been welcoming the public into it’s bedchamber every New Year’s Day since 1947.

A reception held by many levels of government to mark the start of the year, Desjardins said the levée is an opportunity for members of the community to meet informally with municipal government.

She said it’s especially important in a year when new council is elected, with three council members newly sworn-in.

Desjardins invites the public to drop-in and chat with their elected officials, and enjoy coffee and goodies this New Year’s Day. “It’s a nice way to finish off the holidays.”

The Township of Esquimalt New Year’s Day Levée is on Jan. 1 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in council chambers, Esquimalt Municipal Hall, 1229 Esquimalt Rd.