|The ancient tradition of the Feux de Joie (Bonfires of Joy) can be traced back over 3,000 years to the French region of Europe. It was in this way that the early Celts celebrated the Winter Solstice, marking the birth of the new sun. In 532, the Church replaced this celebration with the feast of Christmas. In the U.S., only among the French in south Louisiana can this tradition still be experienced.
Every Christmas Eve, bonfires are lighted along the Mississippi River levee to help guide Pere Noel's way to south Louisiana. These traditional feux de joie were brought to the area by the French Acadians, who found themselves exiled far from their homeland and wished to help Father Christmas find them in their new homes.
The river levee between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is dotted with bonfires, which are not merely piles of branches, but elaborate structures built around a central mast or pole according to ancient tradition. From an airplane, the river's course can clearly be seen outlined by the glow from the bonfires.
|In this section, preparing for the feux de joie...|
|The fires are lit...|
|Back to Christmas in Old New Orleans
Nancy's Holiday Pages
Old New Orleans - Home
Whispers - Home
|Bonfire on the levee, 1930|