History explains it all! Christmas New Orleans style

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NEW ORLEANS(WGNO) - New Orleans is rolling out the red and green carpet for those who want to experience the traditional Christmas experience, New Orleans style.

In French, New Orleans’ original language, the word “reveillon” means “awakening.” The Creoles, some of the city’s earliest inhabitants, celebrated the start of Christmas in the early 1800s, with a big family meal when they returned home from midnight mass.

Now-a-days, restaurants are not open at 2 a.m. for a feast consisting of chicken and oyster gumbo, game pies, soups, souffles, lavish desserts, brandy and coffee, but this is how it was done back then. It was a tradition the Creoles inherited from their European cousins as a way of breaking the daylong religious fast leading up to Christmas Eve.

By the 1940s, the Reveillon tradition, which had been slowly fading out over succeeding generations, all but disappeared. However, it was revived in the 1990s – with modifications reflecting the times – and has been increasing in popularity ever since.

The emphasis on the Reveillon tradition shifted from family dinners at home to the tables of the city’s top-tier restaurants. 50 of New Orleans restaurants offer Reveillon Dinners with menus inspired by those enjoyed by the Creole families who began the tradition, but with their own twist.

"You can enjoy a margarita or a beer with a Revellion dinner now," said Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. The tradition is still there, but it's done differently in modern times.

Another tradition we still honor is the Yule Log. The tradition began in France, where a large log was put in the fire place and lit on Christmas Eve, to be kept burning until New Years Day. In New Orleans and France, now we bake a pastry log that resembles what you would see in nature. But New Orleans chefs today are putting a creative spin on it. The logs are still similar in shape and have whimsical nature features, but they can be any color and flavor.

For a full list of seasonal happenings, click here.