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Deborah Guzzi travels for inspiration: China, Nepal [during the civil war], Japan, Egypt [two weeks before ‘The Arab Spring’], and most recently Peru. First published at the age of sixteen, she writes articles for Massage and Aroma Therapy Magazines. Her poetry has been accepted in the Literary Journals of Western CT. University, Inclement Magazine, Pyrokinections, Jellyfish Whispers, Grey Wolf’s Summer Legends Anthology, The Germ, Wilderness Literary Review, The Anthology Sweet Dreams & Night Terrors, Bitterzoet Magazine, haiku journal, Contemporary Haibun Online, Bella on line, The Autumn Sound, Eskimo Pie, and Ribbons, The Inwood Indiana Review, Five Poetry, Tanka Society of America Journal, and 50 haiku. She has published two illustrated volumes of poetry, The Healing Heart and Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell.

Pere Noel

Blog Posted:12/18/2013 4:21:00 PM
Cajun Christmas Traditions /  Laissez les bon temps rouler /  by Diane Tucker

C’est bon! That means “That’s good” in Cajun French. If you are around Cajuns  much, you’re probably going to hear it because they say it quite a bit —  especially when it comes to food. This gregarious culture tends to be positive  whether they are talking about gumbo or Christmas.

Speaking of which,  Cajuns have an interesting take on this holiday. Through the years they have  paralleled the larger American traditions to create a unique southern Louisiana  holiday experience.

If you don’t know about and haven’t met any Cajuns,  just follow along and you’ll get a better idea about the history and customs of  this distinctive people.

Christmas traditions for Cajuns are very similar  to the traditions of the French because they have a French background. They were  exiled from Nova Scotia (a French colony in Canada) in the 1700s. The  French-speaking Cajuns moved to Maritime, Canada. Others moved to areas in the  southern United States, primarily southern Louisiana. This area is known as  Acadiana. Most Cajuns are Roman Catholic and religion is very important to them.  Cajuns speak a dialect of French known as Cajun French.

One of the  differences between American and Cajun traditions is the perception of Santa  Claus. The Cajuns call him Pere Noel. In French, Pere Noel means Father  Christmas. Rather than living at the North Pole like Santa, Pere Noel lives in  the hot, humid, swampy bayous of Louisiana. Instead of being pulled in a sleigh  by reindeer, Pere Noel is pulled in a pirogue (flat-bottomed canoe) by  alligators with the names of Gaston, Tiboy, Pierre, Alcee, Ninette, Suzette,  Celeste and Renee.

Another difference from American traditions  is  bonfires on the levee. It compares to decorating the outside of houses with  Christmas lights. The purpose of exterior decorative lights was to enable Santa  to see a home from far away. That is the same purpose of bonfires on the levee. 

In parishes along the Mississippi River, bonfires have been lit on  levees since the mid 1800s. Before the tradition began, French priests lit  bonfires on the levee on New Years Eve, because it was customary in France. In  the following years the tradition began being celebrated on Christmas Eve. The  bonfires are made from many types of materials, including old tires and trash.  People use what ever they can find to have the most creative  bonfire.

There are a variety of foods associated with Cajuns. One of the  best known during the holidays is the praline, a type of candy made from nuts  and sugar syrup. There are many types of pralines. French settlers brought the  recipe to Louisiana. Plentiful in both sugar cane and pecan trees, Louisiana is  the perfect place to make and enjoy pralines.

Cajuns have children’s  stories about their Christmas celebrations. One of the most popular is “The  Cajun Night Before Christmas,” by Trosclair. It is “The Night Before Christmas”  story that most everyone has read, except there’s a twist: The story is told  with a Cajun accent and from Pere Noel’s perspective. It’s a fun story not only  for children, but also to anyone interested in a good read. Because of the Cajun  accent, the story is best read aloud.

Twas the night before Christmas

An' all t'ru de house

 Dey don't a t'ing pass

Not even a mouse

De chirren been nezzle

Good snug on de flo'

An' Mama pass de pepper

T'ru de crack on de do'.

COOL SONG try it your feet will be tapping!

Doesn't everyone think Tim Ryerson should give use a new adventure for Pere Noel &/or Cyndi? [Common little sis give us a dialect poem!]
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  1. Date: 12/18/2013 9:47:00 PM
    Love it. By the way, they light bonfires in Italy, too, but on January 6, the Epiphany.

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  1. Date: 12/18/2013 6:30:00 PM
    Thanks Chris, I also find it very interesting, I hadn't realized their religious roots were Catholic, did you?

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    Guzzi Avatar Debbie Guzzi Date: 12/18/2013 7:40:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Vodun has both light & dark elements, all belief systems contain workers for good and those who use their power wrongly for they are made up of human beings
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 12/18/2013 6:46:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Yes. To this day many Acadians/Cajuns/Creole will shun family members who turn to Protestantism, because of the vile things Protestants did to their ancestors. This umbrella culture is very diverse, there are so many different pockets, including groups that have merged Catholicism with Voodoo/Hoodoo.
  1. Date: 12/18/2013 6:10:00 PM
    Cool Blog, Debbie. Having a Papa Noel only makes sense. Actually, Papa Noel is a great example of how cultures in the southern hemisphere should adopt the Santa Claus which of course has northern roots with Saturn and Odin. For example, why must modern Africans adopt a fat white guy wearing winter clothing, whose sleigh is pulled by Reindeer(also snowflakes hung from palms or sprayed on windows during the middle of southern summer!?). Makes no sense aside from the obvious trend of global homogenization centered around mass consumerism. I am fascinated by Acadian/Cajun/Creole culture and history. The history spans and connects France, Acadian Canada, First Nations, America, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Haiti, West Africa....and on and on. In fact, if one fully learns the entire history of Acadian/Cajun/Creole culture, one will gain the inner-mechanics of Modern Western Civilization itself.

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    cornish Avatar craig cornish Date: 12/18/2013 7:46:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Why you gotta be around Chris!! Love it
  1. Date: 12/18/2013 4:47:00 PM
    Yes I would so love to go visit Tim & hear Cajun music!

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  1. Date: 12/18/2013 4:26:00 PM
    Love it Debbie, very interesting! I worked with some people a while ago from Haiti and they have somewhat of that dialect as well!

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    cornish Avatar craig cornish Date: 12/18/2013 4:28:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    They are a very fun and happy people.

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