Have you ever been to “Cajun Country?” I recently visited and had quite an intriguing education. In southern Louisiana, Lafayette Parish has a long and profound history of a blend of various cultures known as Acadian. The Acadian immigrants married other French, Spanish, and African settlers, forming what became known as the Cajun and Creole cultures. Both cultures spoke French and were devoted Catholics. The heart of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Country is Lafayette Parish, and it has a living and vibrant history that is still prevalent today. Whether you’re grabbing a bite to eat, attending a festival, or dancing to Cajun or Zydeco music at a local dancehall, you can immerse yourself in this culture that’s fascinating, fun, and a true original like no other place on earth. While visiting Lafayette, you will get an epic education – here’s a brief description of what I learned.
What is Cajun? — The word “Cajun” began in 19th century Acadie. The French of noble ancestry would say, “les Acadiens,” while some referred to the Acadians as, “le ’Cadiens”, dropping the “A.” Later came the Americans who could not pronounce “Acadien” or “’Cadien,” so the word, “Cajun” was born.
What is Mardi Gras? — South Louisiana is home to the greatest free party on earth, a colorful celebration known as Mardi Gras. In Lafayette, residents celebrate in many ways — numerous parades with marching bands, beads, and doubloon coins; Mardi Gras Indians with elaborate dancing and costumes; various styles of traditional King Cakes; as well as extravagant Mardi Gras Balls. This also includes the historic Courir de Mardi Gras. This may be the most unusual event I’ve ever witnessed. I was not prepared.
What is Courirs de Mardi Gras? — This is a long-time tradition that dates back to medieval France, where disguised revelers dressed in mocking costumes visited homes on Mardi Gras day. Because times were hard for peasants, these masked revelers would perform skits and songs while they begged. This is still a tradition today.
Crawfish — Nothing shouts spring to Lafayette residents than the arrival of crawfish. This important South Louisiana crop means family and friends get together around crawfish boils, exquisite dishes such as crawfish étouffée and crawfish pie, and the annual Crawfish Festival in nearby Breaux Bridge. They eat very well in Cajun Country. Lafayette’s restaurant scene mirrors the unique Cajun and Creole traditions.
Cajun Music — Visitors come to Lafayette from around the world to hear the distinctive sound of Cajun music, usually featuring an accordion, fiddle, percussion, and guitar with lyrics sung in Cajun French. This unique American musical genre has roots in the other nationalities that helped form Louisiana.
Zydeco Music — The roots of this unique music date back to Creole music. Zydeco is a musical genre combining blues, rhythm and blues, jazz and soul.
Plan a Trip — Looking for fun things while visiting the ‘Heart of Acadiana?’ Check out exciting city tours. From the Original Cajun Food Tour to the newest All-Day Cajun Experience, which includes walking tours of nearby Breaux Bridge (the Crawfish Capital of the World!), and even swamp tours. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a local stay-cation, an office team-building event, a birthday celebration, a girl’s trip, or a date night, Lafayette will provide lots of entertainment, fun, and wonderful memories!
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