As if all the holiday excesses weren’t enough (oh, don’t pretend you didn’t eat too much at Thanksgiving), we Cajuns start celebrating Mardi Gras season on the Feast of the Epiphany – a mere 12 days after Christmas! It’s six weeks of rich, fatty (and therefore delicious) food, lavish carnival balls, festive parades with ornate floats, and all-around merriment. The entire season culminates on Mardi Gras day (French for “Fat Tuesday”), when we really do it up before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent.
You might associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, the city known for its extravagant parties and raucous parades, but Lafayette and other communities throughout Acadiana have their own unique celebrations. Here in Lafayette, Mardi Gras krewes maneuver their giant floats all over the city while kids and grown-ups alike shout, “Throw me something, mister!” in the hopes of scoring beads and doubloons. Mamou, Church Point, Basile, and other small towns in the area celebrate Fat Tuesday with the Courir de Mardi Gras (“run of Mardi Gras” in English). This fascinating tradition involves – among other unusual activities – convening at sunrise, donning crazy costumes, riding horses, brandishing whips, and chasing chickens (yes, really). Mix with copious amounts of alcohol, and you have a recipe for hilarity. Of course, with horses and buckets of hurricane cocktails, things can sometimes go awry (uh, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything), but on the whole, the Courir de Mardi Gras is ridiculously fun.
At Stuller, we celebrate Mardi Gras with – what else? – food. (No, I’m not telling you how much king cake I consumed this season, but in the words of Shakira, “hips don’t lie.”) Departments throughout the building join in the festivities by decorating their spaces with purple, gold, and green streamers. And on the big day itself, we bring crockpots with gumbo, links of boudin (a yummy Cajun sausage), platters of cracklin, and lots more. It’s the kind of experience you’d expect from all the fun-loving folks who work here.
Even if you don’t celebrate Mardi Gras where you live, all of us at Stuller wish you the reverie of the season. And if you’ve never been to Louisiana for the big day, I hope you’ll consider coming next year. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Have you ever been to Louisiana for Mardi Gras? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.