Founded by French merchants and fur traders, Ste. Geneviève remained a French-speaking enclave for many years in the newly Americanized Midwest. Sadly, the last generations of native French speakers are disappearing, but cherished traditions like La Guiannée still remain. This ancient tradition, analogous to the English custom of Wassailing that dates back to Europe’s Middle Ages, is celebrated by descendants of those French settlers.
You can watch and participate with these singers and musicians as they celebrate this 250-year-old tradition each New Year’s Eve in the streets, cafes, and pubs of Ste. Geneviève’s Historic District.
“Bonsoir le maître et la maîtresse, and everyone who lives here too. Now for the last day of the year, la guignolée vous nous devez.” So begins the song chanted almost every New Year’s Eve in Ste. Genevieve for well over 250 years! Ste. Genevieve’s La Guignolèe singing troupe will again run their circuit of the Ste. Genevieve historic district in their centuries old New Year’s tradition. Dressed in bizarre and somewhat archaic costumes, the revelers wander from place to place on New Year’s Eve, singing a beggars’ song for favors.
Make a dinner reservation at a restaurant to see the troupe as they make their rounds, watch them perform in the Valle gym at 7:00pm, or attend a La Guignolèe watch party sponsored by the Centre for French Colonial Life 6:30pm-8:30pm. Don’t miss this unusual display of French tradition!