December 10 2007 | Latest News

New Orleans First Christmas Celebration

Although we do not know the exact date New Orleans was founded, there are historical records of the first Christmas celebration. On Christmas Eve, 1718, the same year that New Orleans was founded, the first Christmas celebration took place in the form of midnight mass. The solemn services were held on a makeshift altar in the first temporary church of St. Louis. The structure occupied the same site as the present St. Louis Cathedral. The rustic chapel was illuminated as well as warmed by a fire in a potbellied stove that was chock full of pine knots. The priest, in his finest mass vestments, celebrated the first recoded "masse de minuit" - midnight mass - in the city of New Orleans. Assisting at mass were Governor Sieur de Bienville, along with fifty of the French and Canadian settlers of the city. Also in attendance were a few sailors, a score of soldiers and some shabbily-dressed weary traders and trappers.

From this humble beginning, where services were held in a rustic temporary structure on a makeshift altar, to this year's midnight mass that will be held in the grandiose St. Louis Cathedral there has never been a year when the solemn service of midnight mass on Christmas Even has not been celebrated in the Crescent City.

Just as the colors of the American flag - red, white and blue - and the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold have meaning, so do the colors of Christmas. They are:
GREEN - The continuation of life through the winter and the Christian's belief in eternal life through Christ.
RED - Signifies the blood that Jesus shed at his crucifixion.

CAJUN: The corruption of the word "Acadian."
In the middle of the 1700's France lost another of its long-running wars with England. Those French people who were living in Acadia, Canada (now called Nova Scotia, meaning New Scotland) and refused to pledge allegiance to the crown were herded aboard ships to be deposited along the eastern seaboard. Over a period of 30 years approximately 4,000 of them migrated to Louisiana where they were welcomed by the French Creoles who were living
under Spanish control at the time. (The King of France could no longer support Louisiana and had given it to his cousin, Charles III of Spain, to keep the English from taking it.)

Cajuns are people who live life to the fullest, who love to dance, sing and tell jokes, even on themselves. They eat boudin (blood sausage), hog cracklins, gumbo, crawfish, sauce piquante; in fact, some say they will eat anything that does not eat them first. As hard-working as they are fun-loving, they accept people for what they are not what others think of them. They
accept strangers with open arms but injustice will turn a Cajun into an alligator with two heads.

Everyone can achieve what they wish as long as they are willing to give the credit to others.