I am sure that almost all of you have heard of the New Orleans Mardi Gras. We do it a little differently in Cajun Country.
We do have parades but we also have courirs (a lot of people call them runs). You will hear the question “Are you going to the Mamou or Eunice run,?” when you're visiting our area. I could go into the history of the courier but many people have done a better job than me explaining it. Our friend Herb Roe does a pretty damn good job explaining it here -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courir_de_Mardi_Gras. Or this post from Jay Steiner is a great synopsis of the history of both of traditions of Mardi Gras “The courirs in the country are much older traditions, going back to Medieval France and Germany. Once the Acadians arrived in Louisiana in the 1760s and 1770s, there had probably been courir-style celebrations of Mardi Gras being done by the French Creole settlers for decades before.The parade floats and Mardi Gras balls of New Orleans date back to just before the Civil War, when Anglo-Protestant businessmen in New Orleans began the Mystick Krewe of Comus. Carnival celebrations had been going on in New Orleans for over a century before that, but they were much less formalized compared to the version a bunch of rich businessmen came up with later to create an exclusivity around their celebration of the local holiday. The first recorded Mardi Gras celebration in what's now the US actually took place in Mobile, but Carnival was probably happening in New Orleans years before, it's just that everyone was too drunk to write it down. The city was first "discovered" on Mardi Gras, actually.”
Every Courir is different and yet the same. Some don’t allow women, some do. There is Mamou which is very traditional and involves a lot of men on horses. They all chase chickens, have a constant stream of music being played by some of our most talented musicians and wear our version of Mardi Gras costumes. The one thing they all have in common is the fact that Mardi Gras is a day to be free. To drink too much or not at all. To act a fool and not worry about regrets. Mardi Gras is a day to not worry about life daily struggles, to let it all go. You want to carry a rock barefoot for 4 miles, do it. You want to get drunk and wrestle in the mud? Well, you're in the right place. You want to take mind-altering substances and stare into the distance? I know just the right run for you. Feel like sitting your happy ass on a chair all day and wait for Mardi Gras to come to you? Well, you find your inner PawPaw and grab yourself a folding chair and an ice chest and settle in. The one thing you can’t do is judge other people that day. You don’t like what someone’s doing? Well too bad it’s their Mardi Gras too and they get to enjoy the way they seem fit. Mardi Gras is what you make it, so if you're not having fun the problem is you.
Here is a list of some of my favorite Mardi Gras quotes, yes one is mine. If I can’t make myself laugh then why am I even here?
“If I don’t shit myself this will be a successful Mardi Gras” -April
“Y’all get out of Bayou CaCa” -Herb Roe
“It’s all fun and games till someone takes the last link of Boudin” -Yours truly
“Y’all some Crazy Cajuns, but I like it” -Robin Rocque
In the end its all about Lent. This is my contribution to your Lenten menu. Just like Mardi Gras it doesn’t necessarily make sense but its good and give you a good kick in the pants.