Bonfires are a legacy handed down from generations in Louisiana since the 1700s. On Christmas Eve bonfires will be lit along the Mississippi River levees above New Orleans. The special Christmas Eve tradition is the bonfires in the River Parishes of St. James, St. John and St. Charles. The area known as the German Coast.
Today the occasion is said to light the way for Papa Noel on the River. On Christmas Eve the hundreds of bon fires are lit at the same time, lighting miles of the river road levee. From Gramercy to Lutcher the people in the area begin weeks ahead to build the twenty foot tall wooden pyramids to be lit during the Christmas celebration.
The first French and German colonist who came to settle in the area brought with them traditions from their homelands.
The Christmas Eve bonfires still burned in certain parts of France and Germany. The Christmas Yule, known in France as "La Buche de Noel", is also believed to be a remnant of the ancient winter solstice fires.
At most of the large plantations along the river, the fires were built. After the Christmas bonfires, the children recieved gift on New Years eve. Usually the gifts were fruits and nuts.