Traditional Cajun Mardi Gras Celebrations

Elizabeth Dequeant

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Being from Louisiana I wanted to share a couple of things.

First, most of the debauchery you see and or hear about New Orleans Mardi Gras is "fake". That is, all those people are from out of town and even out of state.

I live in Baton Rouge, only an hour from New Orleans, and I have never been to Mardi Gras in the French quarter, and most people who are native Louisianians only go once in their life. For the average person, Mardi Gras is about getting together with friends and family, having a bar-b-que, going to some parades, and so on.

Second, I think you would find the traditional cajun Mardi Gras much more interesting. Most cajuns are Catholic, in fact most Louisianians are Catholic, but cajun country is still very rural, and many of the old customs are flourishing again.
I'm not cajun, but I married one, and I find the traditions really interesting.

Most interesting is what is called the "Courir de Mardi Gras". Traditionally men, but women now too, ride on horse-back around to all the nearby farms "begging".
Some people give money, but the traditional gift is a live chicken, some sausage, or some rice. And the chicken usually must be caught by the "courirs". There is a lot of drinking and wild antics (as you can see) involved as part of the tradition.

These items are then taken into town at the end of the day and a large gumbo (stew) is made for the whole community to share. This community feast is full of traditional costumes, music, and phrases (that I didn't understand because they're in cajun.)

To find out more, visit the "MardiGras in Rural Acadiana" Web Site.

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