News Release 674

French Christmas celebrated Dec. 12 at Felix Vallé House State Historic Site

Volume 38-674 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010 

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., DEC. 1, 2010 -- Visitors to the Felix Vallé House State Historic Site in Ste. Genevieve Sunday, Dec, 12 will be able to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of a traditional French Christmas of the early 1800s.  Le Réveillon, the 28th annual Christmas open house at the Felix Vallé House will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Guests at the open house looking for a Christmas tree will see a crèche in its place in the parlor of the French household.  This miniature representation of the manger scene is surrounded by santons, or "little saints," which are small figurines representing the peasants of the French countryside.  The history of the crèche as part of the Christmas celebration dates back to Rome in the seventh century.

Strains of 18th century French carols will be heard throughout the home during the afternoon courtesy of “The Peacocks.”  The group, one of Ste. Genevieve’s favorite historic musical groups, will be performing French and traditional holiday tunes from the period, featuring the violin, guitar and hammered dulcimer.

After Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, many French families gathered in their homes for the traditional réveillon.  This feast will be re-created in the dining room of the Felix Vallé home and will feature the typical foods served in the early 19th century.  As part of the réveillon, 13 different desserts will highlight the celebration. Samples of the bûche de Noël, a sweet rendition of the yule log, will be served to guests.

Natural decorations in the Vallé home hint at the religious nature of the holiday, as they would have in the early 1800s.  Scents of native pine and fruit fill the rooms that will be lit by candles in the late afternoon and evening.   Costumed guides will be available to explain the holiday customs of the early French settlers.

Felix Vallé House State Historic Site is located at Second and Merchant streets in Ste. Genevieve. For more information, call the site at 573-883-7102 or the Department of Natural Resources toll-free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). For information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com.

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