Celebrating Christmas – New Orleans Style
Christmas is right around the corner now – each country celebrates this day with different traditions. Living in New Orleans, Louisiana and celebrating it there with friends was a truly special experience. In true southern tradition, the city and its residents welcome visitors with open arms.
Events in the City:
The Big Easy – a term which truly defines the laid back character of this city, offers visual treats which are not easily forgotten. Walk through the French Quarter and see all the quaint old homes with wrought iron balconies sporting purple, green and gold decorations along with all the red and green tinsel. Get a drink at one of the many bars in the French Quarter to get into the celebratory spirit of the season.
Midnight Mass at the historic St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square is a must for everyone. Enjoy concerts and carols, Christmas parades replete with characters of the season and marching bands are part of the celebration.
Take the Canal Street streetcar and stop at City Park. Old Oak trees are decorated with 2 million (and counting) lights – the theme is different every year and a must visit event. Known as the Celebration in the Oaks, it is a feast for the eyes. Ride the toy train, enjoy the music and the Poinsettia display courtesy the Botanical Gardens.
New Orleans is best known for its spicy Cajun food and delectable pastries. Not too long ago, families used to have elaborate feasts at home after attending Mass. Eggnog, pies, meringues, Gumbo, Boudin (sausages) and other delectable items are on menus at home and in restaurants. Another time usually was on New Year’s Eve – the traditional dish for on New Year’s Eve is cabbage and black eyed peas, to start the year off right and also for good luck.
What’s Christmas without decorations? Hotels like the Monteleone and the Reoosevelt in downtown New Orleans have a tradition of elaborate decorations. Many residents and tourists alike go on tours of homes and these stately hotels to take in the decorations, listen to music and get a drink. What a way to soak in the atmosphere!!!
Don’t forget to stop at the Café Du Monde for Beignets and coffee – enjoy caroling, tarot and palm readers too. Wander through the French Market for local crafts and produce. Food and drink is such a big part of the landscape that no visit to the city is complete without trying the local and highly seasonal drinks and dishes. Check out the Eggnog Noel (with butterscotch Schnapps) – guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter day or the Brandy Milk Punch with a dash of Nutmeg.
Another event that is not to be missed is the lighting of the bonfires on the levees along the Mississippi River – this is done to help Papa Noёl on his way to the city. Small towns and Parishes host gumbo cook-offs and have gingerbread house contests after which people stay for the bonfires. What a fun way to spend Christmas – hang out with friends and their families, enjoying the season in a completely unique way.