Caroling in Jackson Square

Caroling in Jackson Square

By Jorge Fuentes

Click aqui para español- >Villancicos en Jackson Square

One of the brightest traditions for the Christmas holidays in New Orleans turns the French Quarter into a huge choir of people who get together to sing the songs of the season illuminated by thousands of candles.

It works like this: The crowds start showing up on the evening of the event at Jackson Square, usually about 10 days before Christmas, and wait for the gates to open. Once there, each person is provided with a free candle and a songbook and after a brief ceremony on a stage in front of the cathedral, the music starts. You do have to be there early ready to wait in line since the singing begins right on time, and the whole thing is over within the hour.

“Imagine a sea of people you just see candles,” said Sandra Dartus, a member of the group that organizes the event. “It’s such a wonderful feeling, a sea of humanity and all these candles, singing and smiling together,” she said.

Patio Planters of The Vieux Carré is the official name of the 350 volunteers who work all year round to raise the funds that cover the cost of the candles, the songbooks, and all of the expenses for security and the logistics that allow from 8 to 10 thousand people each year get together in peace, and this has happened continuously since 1946.

In one of those occasions, with bad weather threatening, the Archbishop at the time offered to host the singing at the cathedral to shelter the crowd and that has been the rain plan for a few times already.

This year, Caroling in Jackson Square is taking place on Sunday, December 16 at 7 pm.

Photo credit Vieuxcarreplanters

Jorge Fuentes

Writer/Escritor

Colors & Note/Colores & Notas

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Publisher's Note

Mixing Traditions

It is no cliché. New Orleans has a wonderful mix of traditions that add to the charm of this amazing city. With the holidays in full-swing, we can enjoy holiday-centered, free events like simple walks around traditional neighborhoods to see the elaborate Christmas decorations, Caroling in Jackson Square, attending the gospel and jazz concerts at St. Louis Cathedral and St. Augustine Church, watching the technological light display during Luna Fête, and visiting the beautifully decorated hotel lobbies in town, among others.

 There is one tradition in Louisiana that is so unique and that I hope to experience this year: The Bonfires on the Levee. Just thinking about seeing the pyres, the fireworks display and its reflection on the river during a cold night and having a warm drink while learning about this tradition from our River Parishes' neighbors sounds like an amazing way to soak in some of the culture around us.

Though the original purpose of the bonfires is unconfirmed, fitting the storyline of Papa Noel following the lights on a pirogue being pulled down river by alligators to deliver presents is such a tale. It involves a mix of many elements that are unique to the culture that has shaped the city of New Orleans.

I just love being able to experience different traditions and learning about the ways diverse groups of people who have made New Orleans their home, celebrate the holidays

Happy Holidays!