Traditional vs Modern Mardi Gras [VIDEO]
OK, we all know what Mardi Gras has evolved into... beer, beads, balls, parades, King Cake, costumes, getting a day off from work / school to revel in the madness. But here, deep in the heart of south Louisiana, we have another kind of celebration, The Courir de Mardi Gras, or as it is better known, Cajun Mardi Gras. It’s a celebration honored in the prairie, or rural, regions of Louisiana, cities like Church Point, Eunice, Mamou, Iota - the part of our beautiful state that is sometimes known as 'Cajun country'.
A strong sense of culture, and preservation of our history has remained here, hence the continuation of the traditional costume at Mardi Gras time.
This traditional costume includes shirts, pants and a hat, and a mask that’s traditionally made out of a screen and painted with some sort of face on it. Then, the hat, or the capuchin, is somewhat comical and pointed. Each unique costume is individually made, and is colorful and somewhat frilly. The whole idea is to hide your identity, after all!
The costume is worn for the traditional big celebration known as the fete de la quemande, or the 'feast of begging'. It’s held on the day before Ash Wednesday as a way of preparing for Lent, which is what we know as 'Fat Tuesday'
'The idea is that mass riders wearing costume ride on horseback, or some walk, around the countryside and beg for ingredients to make a community gumbo,' Lucius Fontenot, co-owner of Valcour Records, said. 'As a way of showing gratitude to the homeowner who donates the ingredients, the riders will dance, sing and play music.'
This is quite different from the full blown alcohol infused celebration of women pulling up their shirts begging for beads in the French Quarter. Both celebrations have their charms, and I guess a lot of it depends on what part of the state you live in! We are proud to be able to celebrate BOTH here in Acadiana.
Check out some of the history and traditions of the Courir de Mardi Gras, and feel free to share with your non Louisiana friends!