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CAJUN ('ka:-j@n), n. A person of French Canadian descent born or living along the
bayous, marshes, and prairies of  southern Louisiana.  The word Cajun began in 19th
century Acadie (now Nova Scotia, Canada) when the Acadians began to arrive. 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.

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The 700,000 Cajuns who live in South Louisiana are descendants of French Canadians. About
18,000 French-speaking Catholics inhabitants from Brittany, Poitou, Normandy, and across
France established the French colony of Acadia, now Nova Scotia, Canada. The year was
1604 -- sixteen years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, thus establishing one
of the first permanent colonies on the North American continent. By the time the British won
the colony from France in  1713, they had established a thriving, self-sufficient community.

For refusing to pledge allegiance to the British crown, which required renouncing their traditional
Catholic religion for that of the Anglican Church, they were forced from their homes in 1755.  
This cruel and tragic event, known as Le Grand Dérangement, separated families and  forced
people to flee with only the possessions they could carry. Homes and crops  were burned by
the British and the Acadians went to sea under dreadful conditions, more than half lost their
lives.  This event remains a focal point of Acadian history to this day. 

The survivors were scattered along the U.S. eastern seaboard until in 1784, the King of
Spain consented to allow them to settle in South Louisiana.  Most followed the path which led
to New Orleans. There they received a hostile greeting from the French aristocracy so they
headed west of the city into unsettled territory. They settled along the bayous of south
central and south western Louisiana where they could live according to their own beliefs and

For several generations, the Cajuns raised various crops and lived on the bayou
where they fished and trapped. Today, Cajuns are famous for their unique French
dialect (a patois of 18th-century French), their music, their spicy cooking, and for
their ability to live life to its fullest. They continue to preserve their folk customs.
Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez! (Let the good times roll).


Cajun Culture

Experiencing the Cajun culture is like no other. The Acadians of today are a
thrifty, hard-working, fun-loving, devout religious folk. They work and play with
equal enthusiasm.

"Work like hell to make your money, then spend it all having a good time!"
-- from Les Blank's film "Spend It All", Flower Films

The Cajun's pleasure-loving nature expresses itself in the community festivals,
dancing and food that are integral parts of bayou life. Cajuns are known for their
"joie de vivre" (joy of living), and to add excitement to their food they experiment
with herbs, spices and ingredients to create some of the most flavorful dishes
that people throughout North America now enjoy.

crawfish.jpeg (24576 bytes) One of the traditional favorite Cajun pastimes is an old- fashioned crawfish boil.
When the sacred "mud bugs" or "crawdads" go into the pot a breath of excitement  fills the air. Before the great feast of the boiled crawfish, potatoes, onions and corn, youngsters make a mad dash for the crawfish tub poking the live crawfish  with sticks while other family members participate in crawfish races.
Boiling crawfish is not the only way to enjoy the crustaceans. When crawfish go into the pot a number of delicious dishes result because there are almost as many ways to cook crawfish as there are swamps, ponds and ditches in which to catch them. Crawfish are served up in gumbo, bisque, étouffée, jambalaya, pies or patties. When the Cajuns aren't eating crawfish, they enjoy other world famous cuisine of Louisiana such as oysters, shrimp, boudin, pralines, gumbo and red beans and rice.

pics_danser.gif (17123 bytes) What better way to experience Cajun food than at a festival? Any time is festival time in Cajun Country. Towns and villages throughout Acadiana celebrate every season with their special blend of music, food and the colorful Cajun heritage. Most festivals feature live music of all sorts, contests, native crafts and food and, of course, dancing.
Cajun music is also distinctive. It can be lively or melancholy, and sometimes both at the same time. The main reason why many attend festivals is for the unique Cajun music. Cajun music, once deemed as "nothing but chank-a-chank" has infiltrated radio, television and classrooms and is becoming world famous for its unique sounds of instruments like accordions, fiddles and triangles.

Courir du Mardi Gras 

One of the largest festivals is old-fashioned Courir du Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras Run),
one of the local traditions that makes Mardi Gras in Cajun Country truly unique. The
spectacle celebrated in small towns and villages in Acadiana is a favorite of visitors
interested in off-the-beaten-path experiences. With its roots firmly in the medieval
tradition of ceremonial begging, bands of masked and costumed horseback and wagon
riders led by the unmasked "Le Captaine" roam the countryside "begging for ingredients
for their community gumbo. The day's festivities end with a fais-do-do and, of course,
lots of savory gumbo.

In Cajun Country, a week hardly goes by without chants of praise to crawfish,
rice, alligators, cotton, boudin, yams, gumbo and andouille, all the necessities of
bayou life. Within the triangle of Acadiana's 22 parishes, you'll experience the
"joie de vivre" of the Cajun lifestyle. Whether in food, music or fun, the Cajun
tradition continues to live on in the hearts of Cajuns and visitors alike.

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louisiana.gif (482 bytes)Click to go to Official Louisiana Website

BulletBlueSpiral.gif (165 bytes)Lafayette, LA: Heart of Cajun Country USA

BulletBlueSpiral.gif (165 bytes)Mardi Gras Cajun Style

BulletBlueSpiral.gif (165 bytes)Cajun Dictionary


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Last updated 10/14/06