Friday, December 29, 2006

La Guignolee

Pronounced "la-ghee-o-lay"

Ste. Genevieve is a French town, founded by the French in 1735. The French were attracted to Ste. Genevieve by good soil, lead deposits, salt springs, the Catholic religion and the French language. Ste. Genevieve has the largest concentration of French Colonial architecture in the world. One of the French traditions that is still upheld today is the La Guignolee. This is a troupe of traveling singers, that go from door to door, ringing in the new year. The practice was primarily a chance to visit with relatives and friends, and it was more less, a traveling feast.

This year is no different. This 200 year old tradition will once again happen upon our little town. The singers, and musicians, dressed in colonial garb, will start at the American Legion Hall at 6 p.m., and make their way to all the restaurants, bars, nursing homes, high school gyms, and end at midnight at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

If you are looking for something unusual, festive, and traditional all at the same time, come to Ste. Genevieve for New Year's Eve. The Winery will be open until 5 p.m., so grab some wine and follow the band!

Translation of the words sung by the La Guignolee:
"Good evening master and mistress,
And all who live with you.
For the first day of the year, you owe us La Guignolee.
If you have nothing to give, a chine of meat or so will do.
A chine of meat is not a big thing, only ninety feet long.
Again, we don't ask for very much,
Only the oldest daughter of the house.
We will give her lots of good cheer,
And we will surely warm her feet.
Now, we greet you, and beg you to forgive us please.
If we have acted a little crazy, we meant it in good fun.
Another time we'll surely be careful
To know when we must come back here again.
Let us dance La Guenille, La Guenille, La Guenille!"

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