Courir de Mardi Gras
Various locations around Acadiana
In the Cajun Prairie Country of Evangeline and St. Landry Parishes, far from the crowds and bustle of New Orleans, centuries of history come to life each year as citizens revive old traditions and make new ones on Mardi Gras day.
Sometimes touted as Carnival’s “country cousin,” the annual Courir de Mardi Gras is hosted by communities such as Eunice, Mamou, and Lejeune Cove, Louisiana. The “Fat Tuesday Run” activities vary wildly across South Louisiana but usually consist of bands of costumed revelers traveling from house to house where they collect single ingredients to be used in a communal gumbo.
The custom can be traced to medieval practices in France, where after a long winter, the poor would travel to wealthy neighborhoods where they would sing, dance, and beg for food.
In the 18th century, exiled Acadians brought the religious tradition to South Louisiana, where it remains a source of local pride and a link to the roots of the Cajun population still living in the area.
Today, you’ll find most of the original traditions unchanged. In many communities, Le Capitaine, sometimes on horseback, leads the group, whose identities are concealed by capuchon (various traditional costumes). Le Chanson (The Song) de Mardi Gras, which has varying lyrics from town to town, can be heard echoing through the streets. In some places, a live chicken is released and chased by participants hoping to capture the most prized gumbo ingredient.
These customs are just a general taste of all there is to see on Mardi Gras Day in Cajun Country. Check with local Convention & Visitors Bureaus for a full list of activities like parades, Courir de Mardi Gras, and other dances and festivals taking place throughout Carnival season.
Cajun Mardi Gras Courir de Mardi Gras Events
Church Point (February 6-7)
Tee-Mamou Iota (February 9)
Mamou (February 9)
Eunice (February 9)
Elton (February 6)
Image courtesy of Visit St. Landry Parish. Photographed by David Simpson.