News Release 387

Traditional French Christmas featured Dec. 11 at Felix Valle House State Historic Site

Volume 39-387 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., NOV. 29, 2011 -- Visitors to the Felix Vallé House State Historic Site in Ste. Genevieve on Dec. 11 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. and the public is invited to attend this free event.

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.

From 2 to 5 p.m., strains of 18th century French carols will be heard throughout the home courtesy of Rick Thum and his hammered dulcimer. Thum will perform favorite historical music and traditional holiday tunes from the period.

Traditionally after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, many French families gathered in their homes for réveillon. This feast will be recreated 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 be highlighted. Samples of the bûche de Noël, a sweet rendition of the yule log, will be served to guests.

Natural decorations in the Vallé home will reflect decorations that would have been used in the early 1800s. Scents of native pine and fruit will fill the rooms, which 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 Valle House State Historic Site is located at Second and Merchant streets in Ste. Genevieve and the event is sponsored by Missouri State Parks. For more information, call the site at 573-883-7102 or the Missouri 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