News Release 286

Missouri State Parks hosts traditional French Christmas Dec. 9 at Felix Valle State Historic Site

Volume 39-286 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

Visitors to the Felix Vallé House State Historic Site in Ste. Genevieve Sunday, Dec. 9, 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 Missouri State Parks, admission is free.

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. He will perform favorite historic music and traditional holiday tunes from the period.

After Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, many French families gathered in their homes for the traditional 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 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 will reflect decorations that would have been used in the early 1800s. Scents of native pine and fruit 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.

The 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. For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.