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Reveillon: Just like Nochebuena, but here in New Orleans

Reveillon: Just like Nochebuena, but here in New Orleans

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español- >Réveillon: La Nochebuena de Nueva Orleans

Pork tamales. If there’s one flavor that reminds me of Christmas, it’s that of pork tamales. Well, to be honest, gumbo is also one. There’s nothing like a hot bowl of gumbo on a cold, wet night to get me into the holiday mood.

I didn’t know it when I was younger, but my cultural background was a blessing. On the Mexican side of the family, our table was full of tamales, tortillas, beans, rice, and turkey. On the Louisiana side of the family, it was shrimp creole, oyster dressing, gumbo, and a variety of other dishes my cajun grandfather would whip up from his garden.

Yes, I was blessed with the best meals at Christmas, but little did I know, although the food was different, the tradition was the same. Long before the United States’ Christmas culture of trees, gifts, and consumerism arrived in New Orleans, French families carried on the old tradition of a Reveillon--a big dinner on Christmas Eve filled with family and friends. Sure, Christmas Day is great, but Christmas Eve is the real party!

If you’re fortunate enough to know someone with a Louisiana background, you may have been invited to one of these large meals. According to Wikipedia, within the United States, it’s something unique to New Orleans--or is it?

Just as French-American gather for Christmas Eve and stuff themselves with traditional meals, Latino families follow a similar tradition. Nochebuena is what many Spanish-speaking people call Christmas Eve.

From Spain to Colombia to Mexico, families gather together on Nochebuena to eat, attend midnight Mass, dance, and exchange gifts. While the two names for this celebration are different, the purpose is the same--to bring families together for the holiest night of the Catholic calendar.

Of course, Latinos are a diverse people. Many of us are far from home and won’t get to see our families this year and not every Latino practices Catholicism. No matter, if you find yourself in New Orleans this holiday season, you too can partake in this French, or Spanish, tradition.

Since the 1990’s, the New Orleans tourism engine has encouraged restaurants to offer Reveillon menus in order to attract tourists during the typically slow holiday period--and it’s not just on Christmas Eve.

Keep your eyes out this holiday season for Reveillon menus and specials. While you may not be able to get home this year, you can do your part to continue the tradition of gathering at Nochebuena right here in New Orleans--at least with friends over an incredible meal.

Illustrator Daniel Garcia

Christopher Ard

Writer/Escritor

We are NOLA/Somos NOLA

Louisiana / Mexico

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Publisher's Note

It’s been one year since we launched VIVA NOLA Magazine. Time does fly when you’re having fun!

The community support for our independent magazine has been amazing. Being able to connect

communities is what drives our team every month to create original content that can be enjoyed by all those who share the love for our wonderful city, for Latin America and its cultures,and for everything that makes our community so special.

We have been fortunate to have met so many interesting people during our inaugural year. It’s been our honor and privilege to be able to expand our reach and to learn the stories of so many wonderful individuals. We enjoy learning from peoples’ stories and finding common ground in their varying experiences stemming from so many different walks of life.

VIVA NOLA goes beyond being just a magazine. We are a multimedia platform that connects communities through your stories, city-wide events, and the support of impactful

initiatives that take place all over the Greater New Orleans region. I’m thankful for this year and look forward to strengthening our VIVA NOLA community in the many years to come!

We value your support and look forward to continuing engaging in meaningful conversations with members of our community, and to providing a different perspective on what it means to be a New Orleanian.

Happy Anniversary to VIVA NOLA and big THANK YOU to everyone who continues to make it possible. From our sponsors, writers, designers, web and social media teams, editors, readers, to all of our followers and supportive friends, you are greatly appreciated.

Last but not least, to all the wonderful mothers who follow us and read us, I hope you feel the extra love during your special day. Happy Mother’s Day!

Follow us on social media to stay connected and to find out about surprise celebrations of our first year!

AnaMaria