New Orleans Plantation Country Christmas

New Orleans Plantation Country Christmas - Destrehan Plantation

Being from Minnesota I’m used to a white (and COLD) Christmas, so I was happy to head to Louisiana last week to experience something new (to me) and unique with a New Orleans Plantation Country Christmas. Located northwest of the city along the Mississippi River, New Orleans Plantation Country is home to nine different plantations, each offering a unique experience. What is extra special about visiting this time of year is that the plantations are decorated for Christmas and, in taking a tour, you can learn all about the holiday customs of the past. Here are just a few….
 

New Orleans Plantation Country Christmas

 
pomander-ball

Holiday decorations were usually homemade and made from simple materials. Pomander balls were made by piercing the skin of oranges with cloves making both a beautiful and great-smelling decoration. (Laura Plantation)

christmas-table

The most important meal of the holiday season was served after Christmas Eve midnight mass. These Reveillon dinners are a creole tradition from the mid 1800s. A popular sweet was Croquembouche, made by stacking cream puffs in a conical shape and holding them together with a toffee drizzle. (Destrehan Plantation)

satsuma-orange-christmas-tree

Christmas trees as we know them, pine trees or fir trees, were not customary until after the first half of the 19th century. Before that time, plantation homes would bring a small tree inside, often a satsuma orange tree, and decorate it with small trinkets. (Destrehan Plantation)

christmas-kissing-ball

A kissing ball served as both a festive decoration and also also, like mistletoe, was a signal that anyone standing under it should receive a kiss. (Destrehan Plantation)

new-year-cornucopias

Traditions continued through the new year. On New Year’s Day it was customary to open homes to visitors. While women stayed home to greet the visitors, men would travel from house to house. Young men would call on unmarried ladies bringing gifts of pretty cornucopias filled with sweets. A girl could display her popularity with a table full of cornucopias she received. (Laura Plantation)

 

 

Besides spending time at the plantations learning about Christmas traditions, there are several local celebrations going on during the holidays and I had a chance to experience two of them. One of the Christmas traditions I found most fascinating was that of Christmas Eve Bonfires. On Christmas Eve families all along the levee would create large bonfires, and that tradition continues today!

st-james-parish-festival-of-the-bonfires

To celebrate this tradition, The Festival of the Bonfires is held each year at Lutcher Park in St. James Parish. The festival includes great food (including a massive gumbo cook-off), live entertainment, crafts, carnival rides and more. There is also a shuttle bus to the levee to visit a bonfire.

christmas-in-the-crevasse-holiday-hayride

Another evening activity is the Christmas in the Crevasse Holiday Hayride in LaPlace. In 1871, the mighty Mississippi River broke through the levee and cut a wide channel to Lake Pontchartrain. This break is called a “crevasse”. This is now the location for hay rides through 5 acres of farm land with more than 80 lighted Christmas displays starting on Thanksgiving night, November 24, and then Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until December 30. All proceeds benefit the Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center.

christmas-oak-alley-plantation

Oak Alley Plantation

I had a highly enjoyable time visiting New Orleans Plantation Country and learning about Christmas customs of the past. I now have the urge to implement some of these traditions myself and have a plan to make some pomade balls this weekend!

Celebrate a New Orleans Plantation Country Christmas

thriftyjinxy@live.com' About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of ThriftyJinxy.com, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 7-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as four lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.

Comments

  1. christinaalmond@gmail.com' Christina A. says:

    Oh–that is a nice trip! I absolutely love southern Louisiana and their food and traditions!

  2. jewelwood55@gmail.com' Julie Wood says:

    This is so amazing to be able to go to New Orleans and see the Country Christmas. They food and traditions are amazing and so festive.

  3. So cool! I would love to go there for the holidays! Love it!

  4. What a wonderful way to teach your kids a history lesson and enjoy some yummy food and entertainment as well! Looks like a fabulous experience!

  5. donteamilme@gmail.com' Robin Masshole Mommy says:

    I love everything about the south and I think this sounds absolutely ah-mazing. I would love to get there someday.

  6. askandilltell86@aol.com' Jenna Wood says:

    A good hayride, with hot cocoa, is one of my favorite holiday traditions- this definitely is somethingidl ‘ ike to experience when spending Christmas with family in Shreveport someday!

  7. audiocarnage@comcast.net' Amy Desrosiers says:

    I am in love with how festive their celebrations are. I hope one day I can travel the US and see other traditions.

  8. OK, A) How the heck do you pronounce “Croquembouche” and B) How do I get it on my table? Like, right now?

  9. New Orleans is one of my all time favorite cities! I would LOVE to celebrate Christmas here!

  10. Wow. That is such a gorgeous place. I would love to visit there for the holidays.

  11. What a fabulous place to visit during the holidays! I love the outside- looks beautiful!

  12. info@myteenguide.com' My Teen Guide says:

    I’m really glad that you had adventure trip! It’s so nice to know about plantation I’ve learned few from them.

  13. I really enjoy learning about customs and traditions from past generations. New Orleans Plantation sounds like a trip I would never forget.

  14. What a beautiful place to visit and I love the décor!

  15. Looks like a graet place to spend christmas

  16. I think I made pomade balls in grade school!! Interesting traditions! Thanks for sharing. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you. Merry Christmas!

  17. That looks lovely. Too bad it’s 1,000 miles away from me.

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