Category Archives: New Orleans Traditions

New Orleans Traditions

New Orleans Reveillon Dinners

Photo Courtesy of New Orleans Tourist Board

 

A beloved local tradition around the holiday, New Orleans restaurants and their Reveillon dinners have been gearing up throughout the month of December in preparation of Christmas and New Year’s. From the French word for “awakening,” Reveillon dinners were historically held after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and again on New Year’s Eve as families and friends gathered to celebrate the holidays. Due to the city’s strong French heritage and love of tradition, New Orleanians continue to revel in the Reveillon dinners every holiday season.

In New Orleans, 47 restaurants across the city will continue this tradition by hosting their own unique Reveillon dinner throughout this month. Original Reveillon menus generally consisted of Creole delicacies, various egg dishes, and sweets, but these local restaurants have developed unique variations of the meal to reflect their house specialties and their take on the spirit of the season.

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New Orleans Traditions

Feux de Jois: Louisiana’s Christmas Bonfires

Christmas bon fires along the Mississippi River levees

Getting ready to light the bon fires

Another New Orleans Christmas tradition involves a different type of light from Celebration in the Oaks. Feux de jois, or “fires of joy,” is a local Christmas Eve pastime that involves lighting bonfires along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Legend has it that the bonfires guide Papa Noel—or Santa Claus—downriver in his paddleboat, through the dense river-rolling fog, to help his late-night, present-filled journey along.

Since the 1720-30s, these Christmas bonfires have caught the attention of thousands of visitors to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Gramercy, Lutcher, Reserve, and other Louisiana towns. Another explanation for the founding of this custom—brought over by the first European settlers—was that long ago, before the levees were ever built, these bonfires used to serve as lighthouses that helped to guide friends and family, who were visiting the area for Christmas Eve, down the river to their landing destinations.

On Christmas Eve, you can take a “Bonfire Adventure” with Gray Line New Orleans, which includes a narrated motor coach tour of bonfires built by local communities, a River Road Plantation Tour, and a Cajun Country Dinner. On this tour—or your own personal tour—you’ll see giant structures resembling teepees lining the levees of the Mississippi—more than 100 in all. They’re constructed out of trees, bamboo, sugar cane, and any other flammable product, covered in kerosene, and lit simultaneously around 7pm. read more »

New Orleans Traditions

Fall is a Perfect Time to Visit New Orleans

Moss draped cypress trees in City Pary

City Park Lagoon

In New Orleans, fall is the favorite time of year for many locals and visitors alike. The sweltering heat and humidity of the summer gradually, and then suddenly, give way to the crisp air and cool breezes of the autumn months. Muggy evenings turn into ideal walking weather, and the welcomed cool of the early mornings lingers a bit longer with each passing day.

We don’t have quite the vibrancy of the changing leaves as other parts of the country might. But what we lack in leaves, we make up for in sumptuous blooms of fragrant fall flowers and the sky’s lovely hue—a bright blue you have to see to believe.

Because of the magnificent weather, locals and tourists both love to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Rides on the streetcar, walks through the French Quarter, and strolls through picturesque City Park and Audubon Park become part of regular routine. Visits to the Audubon Zoo also top fall to-do lists, along with long walks along the Mississippi River, the Riverwalk, and Woldenberg Park.

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New Orleans Traditions

Easter Candies of New Orleans

Lent is over, and we’re still enjoying our Easter candy here in New Orleans, but this year just isn’t the same.  Although the familiar Elmer’s Chocolates, second largest manufacturer of the heart box in the country and the maker of Heavenly Hash Gold Brick, and Pecan Eggs is still located in the area, it moved across the lake to Ponchatoula in the early ‘60s. Nonetheless, it’s a venerable local company, established in 1855 in New Orleans and today run by the third generation of the Nelson family.  The company’s founder was Christopher Henry Miller, a German immigrant to New Orleans. His first shop was on the corner of Jackson Street and Levee Street in New Orleans.  Later it became Elmer-Miller, the name of Augustus Elmer was added, when he married into the Miller family.   In 1914 it became The Elmer Company . Roy Nelson bought the company in 1963 from the Elmer family, who first began making Heavenly Hash Eggs in 1923 and Gold Brick Eggs in 1938.   Elmer’s didn’t invent the Heavenly Hash recipe, but bought it from a department store.  Today the company makes 15 million candy eggs a year, and we eat a lot of them in New Orleans!

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New Orleans Dining New Orleans Traditions

Commander’s Palace: A New Orleans Classic!

Commanders Palace
New Orleans is home to some of the most original and well known restaurants in the world.  Commander’s Palace stands out as a “must do.”  Experience the graciousness of a bygone era. This is dining at its finest with impeccable service and mouth watering classic Creole dishes.   Located in the heart of the Garden  District this culinary tradition is run by  the world famous Brennan family, a powerhouse of culinary culture and success .  They Many famous chefs, including Emeril, have gotten their start at this legendary restaurant.

Commander’s Palace was the first restaurant to bring the wonderful and unique tradition of the Jazz Brunch to New Orleans.  Jazz Brunch is world- renowned and an unforgettable experience.

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New Orleans Traditions

Mardi Gras King Cake – A Rich Tradition

 

 

 

Here in New Orleans we don’t refer to this time of the year as winter, we refer to it as Mardi Gras and King Cake time. This sticky pastry cake is one of the best known, symbols of  Mardi Gras and New Orleans. The origin of the king cake goes back to the 1800′s and is an interesting read. My history of this king cake dates back to grade school days. The beginning of carnival was marked by the first king cake party. Who ever got the baby had to have the next party that following weekend. Imagine a party guaranteed for months and paid for by your parents. If I recall, there were also spin the bottle games at those parties!Back then there was only one type of cake, hand braided and  loaded with cinnamon and creamy white icing.

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