Two years ago I shared our two-week Gulf Coast Christmas road trip that began in Bryan, Texas and ended at the most Southern point of the United States, Key West. You might be thinking, why would you take a trip like this during the holidays… and what did you wear?
The answer is simple. Mike and I love to spend our time traveling together, in fact, that’s how we fell in love. We both enjoy learning about the rich history that makes up communities across our country. We also just enjoy the time we spend together and unplugged from our everyday lives. And yes I completely overpacked for the is road trip. Thankfully Acura sponsored our road trip and provided a spacious ride that accommodated my fear of running out of cute outfits.
We met so many wonderful people at our first stop on the road trip in NOLA Plantation Country. On Christmas Eve we learned about a time-honored tradition of the Bonfires on the Levee from our new friend Stephan Keller, owner of the Creole Sugarland Bonfire Tours in Vacherie, LA.
There are few stories behind the history of the bonfires. The first one is more of a magical story, lighting the way for “Papa Noël,” the Cajun Santa Claus, as he delivers his gifts to all the children in the town. The bonfires are said to also be a way to light the pathway to the nearest Catholic church for midnight Mass. Either way, whichever story is true, it was like nothing else I have ever experienced or could have imagined.
There are over 100 Christmas Eve bonfires that span 30 to 40 miles upriver from New Orleans in the St. James Parish, including the communities of Gramercy, Lutcher, and Paulina. We were lucky to have experienced this tradition from Gramercy and witness the burning of the bonfires celebration. Watching the lighting of the bonfires on Christmas Eve was simply amazing to watch a community come together and celebrate as one.
Weeks are spent building bonfire structures on the Levee, along the Mississippi river by local community members and their families. We were invited to attend dinner at almost every house we walked past. Everyone welcomed us with open arms and made our Christmas Eve feel like home.
Watch our Creole Christmas Bonfires on the Levee Video
Our time spent in Louisiana can be summed up in four words – Family, Tradition, Pride, and Community. May you find peace, love, and community this holiday season.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!