Christmas Bonfires – Tradition

Christmas Bonfires – Tradition

Music; Ambience: bonfire, festivities, boats on the Mississippi

JM: This week, just outside of New Orleans, as steamboats pass by on the Mississippi River, a line of bonfires will light the way for Papa Noel. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

JM: Building bonfires has been a Christmas tradition in this part of Louisiana for about 150 years. Teams of builders buy a ten dollar permit from the local parish and then construct 20 foot pyramids out of willow trees and cane reed. Then, on Christmas eve, the bonfires are lit in a fiery spectacle that lines both sides of the Mississippi river. Local historian Charlie Duhe says there’s a few explanations of why people originally began building bonfires on Christmas eve.

CD: “One of the common things that’s said, [is that] the lighting of the bonfires lights the way for Santa Claus, Papa Noel. You follow the lights to these kids’ homes to bring their presents. Another rendition is that it lights the way for people to go to midnight mass, for Christmas eve. There’s always midnight mass along the river and these fires light the way to midnight mass.”

JM: While most bonfires are built in a pyramid or teepee shape, every year there’s a group of people who decide to do things a little differently.

CD: “These kids and all started experimenting. They’d build like a little log cabin and they’d burn it. They’d build like a little southern mansion. They’d burn it. They’d build airplanes; they’d build ships. And one of our most famous, ones, he built a copy of the state capitol, the Louisiana state capitol, and he set it afire. But this little– what we call bonfire alley. You can just stand on that levee and see bonfires for miles. It’s beautiful.”

JM: To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Christmas Bonfires - Tradition

Along the banks of the Mississippi River, a line of Bonfires lights the way for Papa Noel.
Air Date:12/23/2014
Scientist:
Transcript:

Christmas Bonfires - Tradition

Music; Ambience: bonfire, festivities, boats on the Mississippi

JM: This week, just outside of New Orleans, as steamboats pass by on the Mississippi River, a line of bonfires will light the way for Papa Noel. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

JM: Building bonfires has been a Christmas tradition in this part of Louisiana for about 150 years. Teams of builders buy a ten dollar permit from the local parish and then construct 20 foot pyramids out of willow trees and cane reed. Then, on Christmas eve, the bonfires are lit in a fiery spectacle that lines both sides of the Mississippi river. Local historian Charlie Duhe says there's a few explanations of why people originally began building bonfires on Christmas eve.

CD: "One of the common things that's said, [is that] the lighting of the bonfires lights the way for Santa Claus, Papa Noel. You follow the lights to these kids' homes to bring their presents. Another rendition is that it lights the way for people to go to midnight mass, for Christmas eve. There's always midnight mass along the river and these fires light the way to midnight mass."

JM: While most bonfires are built in a pyramid or teepee shape, every year there's a group of people who decide to do things a little differently.

CD: "These kids and all started experimenting. They'd build like a little log cabin and they'd burn it. They'd build like a little southern mansion. They'd burn it. They'd build airplanes; they'd build ships. And one of our most famous, ones, he built a copy of the state capitol, the Louisiana state capitol, and he set it afire. But this little-- what we call bonfire alley. You can just stand on that levee and see bonfires for miles. It's beautiful."

JM: To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.