The Houma Visitors Center will host its 3rd Annual Papa Noël’s Cajun Christmas Celebration this Saturday from 3:00-7:00 p.m.
Papa Noël is the Cajun adaptation of Santa Claus. The Visitors Center wanted to spread the tradition of the Father Christmas to newer generations here in south Louisiana.
“When it originally started, we wanted to have some kind of cultural Christmas experience for kids in both the local and surrounding areas to tell them a little bit more about the legend of Papa Noël and how it ties in with our Cajun culture,” said Joni Duet, Product and Event Development Manager for the Houma-Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Also, we wanted to have little elements of that cultural Christmas experience in the whole event itself, not just with meeting Papa Noël.”
Duet continued to explain that the staff at the Visitor’s Center also wanted the kids to have some one-on-one time with Papa Noël by having a conversation with him instead of just having a photo taken.
“…He speaks a little French to them, they snap a photo and then they’re given a little goody bag,” Duet said. “In that goody bag, they have some little trinkets and things like that. And they have that kind of traditional piece; they are given a citrus fruit.”
Like Papa Noël, the citrus fruit has been a long-standing tradition in south Louisiana, as people would often receive it in their stockings because of the abundance of it in the South.
Aside from learning about this Cajun tradition and engaging with Papa Noël, the children at the event also get to enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, activities with the Kids in Motion Playhouse and readings by the staff of Terrebonne Parish Library —all for free.
“We’ve gotten a lot of very positive feedback from the community and the surrounding communities. It’s a free activity to do with your children around Christmas time where people are being a little bit more budget conscious and gives them something fun to do,” Duet said.
Free e-tickets for this year’s Christmas Celebration were available at papanoelhouma.eventbrite.com, but all the time slots are currently reserved. However, Duet encouraged all who hope to attend to keep up with the event through the Eventbrite and Facebook pages, as people may cancel their reservations as the event draws nearer.
“We’re having a lot of feedback from parents just with appreciation that we’re bringing the cultural element out…and learn a little bit more about our French language and some of the other traditions in a way that still keeps it interesting and fun for the children,” Duet said. •