The last time it snowed on Christmas in New Orleans was in 2004, but snow on any day in New Orleans is a rarity.  Three times this century to be exact.   But that does not dampen the Christmas season in this glorious city that has its own hashtag for the Christmas season, #followyourjoy.  In all of the craziness of the Advent season, we should remember to follow our joy and here are a few of the special traditions found during the Christmas season in my favorite city, New Orleans to help you.



Caroling in Jackson Square

Jackson Square hosts an annual caroling event right before Christmas where thousands of people sing together the beloved songs of the season in the candlelight.  The people who join the caroling, dress up in festive attire and holiday costumes.  Professional singers, amateurs, kids, parents, tourists, locals, the young, the old–all are welcome in the square.  And the concert is free!

Caroling in Jackson Square

Celebration in the Oaks

For the past 30 years, the largest Christmas light display has graced New Orleans City Park and the mild weather makes it a perfect place to have an evening stroll and enjoy the Carousel and Storybook Land.  Most of the lights are built by a small in-house team of artists and fabricators, so the displays are original and unique to the celebration.  One of my favorite areas highlights underwater animals like jellyfish, dolphins and octopus which can be viewed best by riding the train through the park.

Celebration in the Oaks

Bonfires on Christmas Eve (and throughout the Christmas season)

One tradition that dates back to the earliest Cajun settlers who arrived just after the French and Indian War, involves lighting bonfires on Christmas Eve to light the path for “Papa Noel,” the Cajun Santa.  All along the levees that run along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, towns in Southeastern Louisiana light these large ladder-like structures that make the bonfires.  People gather around the bonfires and entire communities come together.  These luminaries light the way for Christmas.

Holiday Bonfires

Reveillon Dinners

Another tradition dating back to the 1800’s in New Orleans is the Reveillon Dinner where guests enjoy a 4-course dinner to celebrate the season.  While its origins were in a late-night family dinner following midnight mass in order to break the day long fast, the tradition is kept alive at some of the city’s finest restaurants.   In order to host a  Reveillon Dinner, restaurants in New Orleans have to submit their menus to a council to ensure they are worthy of the tradition.  At one of America’s oldest restaurants, Antoine’s, the menu is described in this video.

Antoine’s Restaurant

We cannot always travel to another city to celebrate the Advent season, so what events can you join in your community that could help you #followyourjoy?  

Shared by Marcie Doll

Published by marciedoll

I have enjoyed working for over 20 years in the education and publishing spaces creating accessible learning environments for all students. My teaching experiences led me into supporting schools in need of improvement and creating and delivering professional development to teachers and leaders. And then I moved into selling educational materials, programs, technology, and services. Most recently, I have been developing content for innovative learning programs in K-12 and museum spaces. For the past 17 years serving on the board of the Collegiate Corporation, I have led initiatives in women's leadership, stewardship, development, virtual strategy, and educational programs for youth and families. Outside of the learning and non-profit spaces, I enjoy blogging about faith and inspiring women. I have a passion for travel, where you might find me exploring national parks, museums, and finding the best local restaurant to eat. I capture my adventures digitally with my camera. My photography has appeared in exhibitions throughout Europe and Australia in 2019 and 2020, on television in the United States, and was chosen from over 100,000 entries to appear in a well-known photography magazine.

One thought on “#followyourjoy

  1. Marcie, thank you for sharing how people find their joy in their traditions. For those in the New York City area, the Holiday Train Show at the NY botanical gardens (http://www.nybg.org/hts16) is a wonderful place to visit. Trains moved through more than 150 landmarks; you might find yourself smiling as you take in the magic.

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