Christmas Like a Cajun: South Louisiana Traditions

Cajuns celebrate the holidays like everyone else — minus a few unique southern traditions.

Cajun Holiday Meals

Many holiday dinners include having seafood dishes like seafood gumbo and oyster dressing. Look for Cajun sausage and fried turkey — or a signature Louisiana turducken! Bread pudding, pralines, fudge candy, pound cake and divinity are some of the desserts served.

Christmas Eve in Cajun Country 

Cajuns follow a slightly different version of the “Night Before Christmas.” The “Cajun Night Before Christmas” is read in local lingo and follows a similar story line except gumbo replaces sugar plums, Santa is dressed head to toe in muskrat pelts and instead of reindeer and sleighs, alligators pull Santa in a flying skiff (small boat used in coastal areas).

A Cajun Christmas tradition is to visit the Noel Acadien au Village in Lafayette

Wander through the thousands of lights at the Noel Acadien au Village in Lafayette.

Bonfire on the Levee

Bonfires on the Levee

Christmas Traditions & Events


Lafayette rings of zydeco beats throughout the holiday season at their annual Cajun & Creole Christmas Celebrations. The celebrations include everything from Christmas markets, concerts, local eats, holiday window displays, caroling and a Movies in the Parc season finale. You’ll want to check out Noel Acadien au Village to view more than 500,000 lights illuminating the night, LED displays, carnival rides, local cuisine and photos with Santa. The living history village of Vermilionville hosts Old Time Winter at Vermilionville, an event where families can see how winter traditions in the Cajun country of yesteryear looked. Meet Papa Noël, decorate cookies, make bousillage ornaments and more. Watch Vermilionville’s artisans as they demonstrate winter traditions of the Acadian, Creole and Native American cultures such as open hearth cooking and making candles, soap and natural decorations. View this holiday event calendar for Lafayette and the surrounding areas for complete schedules and information.

Lake Charles & New Orleans

Out west in the Lake Charles area, enjoy the Light Up the Lake Christmas Celebration fireworks extravaganza, and Sulphur's Christmas Under the Oaks Festival at the Brimstome Museum Complex for carnival rides and holiday shopping. And over east, the Louisiana Northshore has a helpful guide to experience 10 Ways to Holiday in the area. Be sure to make a short trip to New Orleans for Celebration in the Oaks, a tradition since the 1980s.

Delcambre, Thibodaux & Golden Meadow

Of course, every Louisiana celebration requires a parade. Check out the Delcambre Christmas Boat Parade, the Thibodaux Christmas Parade and the Golden Meadow Christmas Boat Parade and Gumbo Cook-Off.

Christmas Eve Bonfires

Additionally, every Christmas season on the Mississippi River levees above Highways 44 and 18, dozens of log structures are built for an enormous display of bonfires. Though traditionally these log piles are built to resemble narrow pyramids, local residents who build them get creative. Think: elaborate log cabins, trains or swamp creatures. Fires are set on Christmas Eve in an absolutely breathtaking display. Learn more about the history of the bonfires.

Discover even more Christmas events in Northern Louisiana on the Holiday Trail of Lights, where you can celebrate with eight cities across central and northern Louisiana.