I never heard of Madame Grande Doigts (Mrs. Long Fingers) until I married a Cajun girl and learned of the traditional folk character who visits Prairie Cajun households on New Years Eve and stuffs the Christmas stockings one last time with a New Year’s gift or two. Madame Grande Doigts’ gifts are typically on a lower scale than the main event of Santa’s passing on the preceding Christmas Eve, but the benevolent stocking-stuffer adds a final magical touch to the season of gifts and giving.
In our household, we observe Madame Grande Doigts faithfully every year. Even now as I type, every member of the family, including the grown-up parents and kids, has a stocking tacked to the mantle with his or her name stitched or embroidered on it, waiting for la vielle to dispense her gifts while we sleep.
I Googled “Madame Grande Doigts” and didn’t come up with much. (If it doesn’t have an entry in Wikipedia, does it exist????) I really want to find out the historical roots of the tradition. Does it come from France? Canada? Or is it strictly a Louisiana tradition?
I’m surprised, too, that many of the locals in this very Cajun part of Louisiana where I live are unfamiliar with Madame Grande Doigt’s New Years tradition. So I’m curious. Maybe someone who reads this blog will post an informative comment so we can all learn more of the cultural backgrounds.