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Christmas in New Orleans: Our Family Celebrates Reveillon

So it’s Christmas in New Orleans. Right now as I write this the sky is overcast and we are expecting inclement weather. There are some tornado warnings in the area. The air is muggy and although we lit a fire in the fireplace as we traditionally do we had the air conditioner on. Funny.

Christmas in New Orleans: Our Family Celebrates Reveillon

The Bienvenu family celebrates Reveillon Christmas Eve.

The Bienvenu family celebrates Reveillon Christmas Eve.

The weather for Christmas in New Orleans is unpredictable. Some years we have cold weather, occasionally snow and then we have this muggy weather as we are dealing with right now. But the stormy weather portends some cold air so it will feel more Christmasy soon, we hope.

Last night we had our annual dinner with the family. We had a the table beautifully set with candles and a centerpiece and beautiful dishes all lined up. I made some turtle soup, my first attempt at it, and it turned out splendidly, raves all around.

Before dinner we had hors d’oevres of liver pate and guacamole and three layer bean dip. Drinks are all around, of course, my cousin mixing up a batch of milk punch which disappeared very quickly. We all sit around in the living room with Christmas music going on the stereo, I usually like the Trapp Family CD which has beautiful, relaxing choral music that I put on full repeat so it plays and plays in the background on into the night.

Then after about an hour or so we served the dinner buffet style, the turtle soup, sandwiches, smoked turkey. And then afterwards dessert and coffee. For dessert this year I made a lemon nut cake that my Aunt Virginia used to make. I never made it before and it turned out well, although it was a little dry but my addition of a few jiggers of rum moistened it up and gave it a nice kick.

My niece put together a nice Panetone with white icing dripping all over it. There were cookies and macaroons and fresh Cafe Du Monde coffee and chicory blend that I like to brew in an electric peculator pot that’s probably as old as I am and makes delicious, rich coffee.

As I was going about bringing out the food and the getting the drinks for people it struck me that we were basically having our own version of a Reveillon dinner. This is the dinner that was celebrated in old time New Orleans, a French custom where they would go to midnight Mass and then come home and celebrate with full course meals and drinks, on into the night until the sunrise Christmas day.

All the elements were there for a Reveillon, the full course meal, the drinks, the celebration, the family gathering. We were just having it earlier in the evening than the old tradition dictated and some of us would be going to midnight Mass. So we just reversed the order making us able to get to bed at a decent hour so we could get up early and celebrate Christmas opening gifts in front of the beautiful Christmas tree and a roaring fire…and air conditioning.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!!

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