St Nicholas Day in New Orleans and Louisiana was once the main gift-giving holiday for German families beginning in the 18th century. St. Nick visited the night before and children woke up to their holiday presents and treats on December 6, not Christmas Day or New Year's Day.
However, any St. Nicholas holiday celebrations in New Orleans or the United States abruptly became verboten with World War I, along with virtually anything with German connotations.
St. Nicholas Day is still not on the December calendar or holiday mindset of most locals. However, the old holiday has been revived a bit.
St. Nicholas events, usually centered on children, have been held over the years in New Orleans. The Deutsches Haus, home of the popular Oktoberfest, hosted St. Nicholas holiday celebrations with food drink, and St. Nicholas, in years past. The Haus is currently in temporary home in Metairie and maybe the holiday event will return soon. On occasion the German Cultural Center & Museum in Gretna had small St. Nicholas parties for children. But not this year apparently.
New Orleans St. Nicholas Fair
The French Market folks have a contingent in the parade, throwing beads and trinkets just like Mardi Gras of course. Usually Santa Claus and his elves come to the St. Nicholas Fair after their ride in the parade.
The festival's namesake, St. Nicholas himself, will be there with his long white beard, tall bishop's hat, and Shepard's crook.
Free fun for kids is a big part of the festivities, as is fitting for St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children. Plus, music and entertainment for everyone will be in multiple locations during the festival.
It may not have as much German or European flavor as culture vultures and history fans might want, but at least St. Nicholas Day is being celebrated in New Orleans and St. Nick himself will be there in full regalia.
Robert's Cove St. Nicholas Eve
During the St. Nicholas Eve celebration in Robert's Cove, Louisiana, a costumed St. Nicholas, Santa, and Black Peter (Another old European character that assists St. Nick.) along with the church choir board a school bus for at St. Leo Church Hall for a community tour to over a dozen homes where parties of people await their visit. The holiday trio try their best to stay unrecognized and anonymous during their visits which includes greetings, singing, and candy treats. Back at the hall, the make-up and costumes are removed and participants go back to a party or two. This small town St. Nicholas tradition has reportedly spread to a couple of nearby towns.
Robert's Cove is a rare Louisiana community founded by German immigrants that has kept a Germany identity over the years. It's also the site of an annual Oktoberfest, which is a fun day-trip destination from New Orleans. Those old St. Nicholas celebrations in Robert's Cove were described as rather wild and rough. Groups of boys in Santa costumes went about often scaring kids with chains and switches. In the 1950's, a Dutch priest came to the area, added part of his homeland's St. Nicholas traditions, and established the kinder, gentler house-to-house celebration which continues today.
Old European Holiday Music
Much More New Orleans holiday Fun