New Orleans likes to do things in it's own special way, especially when it comes to the holidays. We've got our fair share of traditions and Christmas-isms that every Nola family seems to be in on. Check out this list of our favorites.
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A DEEP DEVOTION TO THE ONE AND ONLY, MR. BINGLE
In 1947, Mr. Bingle came on the scene as the holiday mascot of the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans. Known by local kids from the puppet show in the department store, he still remains an essential symbol of Christmas in New Orleans. While he was later marketed in other states, no one keeps the love going for Mr. Bingle quite like we do.
SAYING "I REMEMBER WHEN YOU COULD DRIVE THROUGH CHRISTMAS IN THE OAKS"
Bring up City Park's Celebration in the Oaks to anyone who grew up in this city and you'll hear "I remember when you could drive through" faster than frosty would melt on a summer day. After Katrina, the lights switched to walking tours only - which is still well worth the visit.
Photo Credit: Southern Fatty
The ubiquitous holiday cocktail of New Orleans. It'll get you though your family gatherings, with milk, bourbon, sugar, vanilla extract, and a lil' sprinkle of nutmeg on top. It'll bring you all the joy of eggnog, without having to be creeped out by drinking eggs.
THE 12 YATS OF CHRISTMAS, AS SANG BY BENNY GRUNCH & THE BUNCH
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
AKA - the official holiday carol of New Orleans. Made in 2002, this is the version of the 12 days of Christmas you always wanted - complete with a crawfish they caught in Arabi.
CHRISTMAS KING CAKES
Photo Credit: Haydel's Bakery
The official start of the Carnival season is twelfth night, 12 nights after Christmas when the wise men are said to have finally found the baby Jesus. Somehow, the people of New Orleans lost their nerve when it came to waiting 12 more nights for king cake and launched right in with a green and red Christmas version. You'll see these bad boys popping up in offices around the city, starting closely after mid-December.
TURNING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE INTO A MARDI GRAS TREE
Photo Credit: southernflairblog.com
It's already up, so why not just use it twice? With the carnival season so closely following Christmas, Nola families have the feat of quickly transitioning their homes from holiday cheer to Mardi Gras festive. Often, this means you may as well just leave up the tree and re-decorate it with some purple green and gold pizzazz. The closer Mardi Gras gets to the start of the year, the more common this becomes.
A CAJUN NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Photo Credit: GatheringBooks.com
In this version, Santa flys in a pirouge with flying alligators guiding the way instead of reindeer. It's the paramount piece of Louisiana holiday literature. It'll leave you questioning, why even bother with the original? Catch a live light display of the story at Celebration in the Oaks.
REMEMBERING AL COPELAND'S CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Photo Credit: Nola.com
Al Copeland gave us Popeyes, but his charitable giving did not stop there. During his life, he also gave the city one of the largest Christmas light displays it had ever seen at his Metairie mansion. Following his death in 2008, the lights were donated to Jefferson Parish and are now displayed at Lafreniere Park.
THE BELLS AT BRENNANS
Photo Credit: www.ydelicacies.com
When your office takes you out for a fancy holiday lunch in New Orleans, you're probably leaving with a bell around your neck. The history starts 20 yers ago, with Commanders Place looking for something other than a matchbook for diners to take home during the holidays. The jingle bells were born and over the years, all of the Brennan's family restaurants have adopted the joined in the jingle bell tradition.
Did I miss any of your favorite holiday traditions in New Orleans? Drop a note in the comments below.
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Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas, y'all!