Courir De Mardi Gras

Courir de mardi gras

Have you ever heard of Courir De Mardi Gras celebrations in south Louisiana?  (Pronounced Kurir D Mardi Gra).

If you are not from Louisiana, you would assume that the only way to celebrate Mardi Gras is the way it is done in New Orleans.  Many folks assume Mardi Gras consists of only parades where people dress up in lavish costumes and throw beads from floats.  There is so much more to our precious traditions, and we wanted to share a few thing you might not know about Mardi Gras in Louisiana.

Mardi Gras in an ancient custom that has evolved over time and has spread from Europe to America.  The New Orleans style of celebrating Mardi Gras is quite different from the rural country Mardi Gras celebrations and I thought I’d write a little bit about both below.

Differences between Courir De Mardi Gras and New Orleans Mardi Gras

In the rural areas of Southwest Louisiana, Mardi Gras is celebrated the old fashion way; family and community unity drive the celebration. While the New Orleans (city) type of celebration is full of glitter, bling, with an over the top flair.  You would never expect riders to throw Mardi Gras beads like they do in New Orleans when being a specator at a country Mardi Gras.  The Courir De Mardi Gras is a lot of fun and very unique; to experience it is something you would not soon forget.

COUNTRY MARDI GRAS – The Courir De Mardi Gras

The tradition started in rural south Louisiana in the 1800’s and revived again in Mamou in the 1950’s.   Today, it is practiced in several other communities throughout South Louisiana such as Hathaway, Iota, Elton, Eunice, Church Point, Iota, Carlyss, and Basile just the name a few.  The traditional Mardi Gras event is on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and is Cajun French for ” the Fat Tuesday Run”.

The traditional theme song is called “The Chanson de Mardi Gras” and you can hear it in the video above.  Popular practices include wearing capuchons — masks that completely cover the face, dancing, begging, feasting, whipping and wearing colorful costumes.

The idea of a rural chicken run was a way for the community to come together and share in the pre-lenten celebration.  Costumed and masked participants ride horseback, they walk or they trailer ride across the countryside begging for items to put in a gumbo.  The chicken is the ultimate ingredient and is the last ingredient they run for.  They wear bright colored costumes which cover their bodies from head to toe.  The headpieces are commonly called Capuchins, pronounced cappy-shons and the members’ faces are completely covered.

The goal is to collect food for a gumbo; therefore the krewe members ride horses or ride in wagons and go from home to home begging for food.  Every home is expended to provide money, chickens, rice, seasoning, sausage or anything they need for a large community gumbo.  Once the krewe member accepts a donation, he is required to dance, sing or entertain the household.   There are usually predetermined stops for either chasing a chicken or for some type of fun event.  The riders are very competitive; most of the time they catch the chicken by landing on it!

The day usually ends with a large community gumbo that is free for everyone to enjoy.  This tradition goes way back to medieval France and is kept up each year.  This type of Cajun Mardi Gras is definitely unique and worth a trip to Acadiana.

NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS

In the 1730’s Mardi Gras was celebrated, but not with parades as we now know it today.  In the 1740’s elegant society balls were established and became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras held today. Then in the late 1830’s the Krewe of Comus brought beautiful shiny floats to New Orleans which were known as the tableau cars.  The practice of ‘throws’ – bead throwing – came much later. It wasn’t until 1870, when the second Krewe was formed called “The Twelfth Night Revelers”, that there was any recordation of Mardi Gras throws.  Floats began being constructed in New Orleans instead of France and eventually, in 1875 Mardi Gras became a legal holiday!

The big city Mardi Gras tradition includes elegant beautiful costumes adorned with lots of sequins and glitter. The parades include beautiful strands of special glass beads, glittered coconuts and other trinkets thrown from the floats in the parade.  The beads, doubloons, and trinkets thrown from the parades usually cost a parade rider a few hundred dollars per parade; however once it makes it home with a person, the next thing said is “What the heck am I going to do with this?”  They are literally worthless!  It’s the darndest thing I have ever experienced!

A large portion of throws and trinkets are recycled in subsequent years, and a cottage industry of used bead vendors has sprung up to meet the demand for inexpensive throws.

Courir De Mardi Gras Costumes

Our gorgeous traditional and not-so-traditional costumes represent Louisiana’s French history and are directly tied to the carnival season.  The costume hats resemble a bishop’s hat and the face is completely covered.  The headpieces are commonly called Capuchins, pronounced cappy-shons.  The costumes are usually homemade and are fairly simple.  They’re made from a shirt and pants and colorful tattered, homemade fringes which are sewed onto the fabric.   The original costumes were made from hand me down work clothes,  however, today colorful fringes are added to the costumes.

The Magic is Waiting for You Here, at the Mardi Gras!

Whether you prefer the down-home rural Mardi Gras Run, or the glitz and pageantry of the metro Mardi Gras, you’re sure to pass a good time with us here in Acadiana. Come and experience an event like no other n the world. Book your stay at Louisiana Cajun Mansion and be right at the heart of it all!