The word levée (from French, originally fem. pp. of lever “to raise”) originated in the Levee du Soleil (Rising of the Sun) of King Louis XIV (1643–1715). It was his custom to receive his male subjects in his bedchamber just after arising, a practice that subsequently spread throughout Europe.
In the 18th century the levée in Great Britain and Ireland became a formal court reception given by the sovereign or his/her representative in the forenoon or early afternoon. In the New World colonies the levée was held by the governor acting on behalf of the monarch. Only men were received at these events.
It was in Canada that the levée became associated with New Year’s Day. The fur traders had the tradition of paying their respects to the master of the fort (their government representative) on New Year’s Day. This custom was adopted by the governor general and lieutenant governors for their levées.
The City of Victoria, and other hosts around town open their doors up on New Years Day to host public levées, typically, wine and cheese and polite conversation is all up for grabs. This year, the People’s Assembly of Victoria is hosting the People’s Levée in Centennial Square at 1:30 pm. It’s a potluck style thing, we’ll have a camping stove or two, hot chocolate, pots of delici0us soup, spaghetti, rice, salad and lots more. So bring a dish, or just bring yourself, let’s ring in the year of the Revolution. Big things are coming. Won’t you celebrate with us?
See you there Victoria.