Laissez les bon temps rouler!

(Let the good times roll!)

Bonjour, tout le monde! Today I have two reasons to celebrate. First, after weeks of technological nightmares and exile from internet land, I am back in cyberspace using a borrowed computer. Huge thank yous to Tommy and Preston! You guys are the best.

Second of all, today is Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” the last chance to celebrate and indulge before Lent begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. To help you get in the mood, here is a traditional Mardi Gras song performed by Dewey Balfa and Nathan Abshire. In the rural communities of southwest Louisiana, masked and costumed revelers (also known as “Mardi Gras”) would ride from house to house singing this song and asking residents for ingredients to make a gumbo that would feed the whole community.

 I think the tone of the song is supposed to be jaunty and festive, but to me, the accordion and the wooden blocks used to simulate the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves give the tune a somewhat melancholy and even slightly creepy feeling, Here’s a translation posted by a commenter on a different version of the song:


The Mardi Gras come from all around, all around the center of town.
They come by once per year, asking for charity.
Sometimes it’s a sweet potato, a sweet potato or pork rinds.
The Mardi Gras are on a great journey, all around the center of town.
They come by once per year, asking for charity.

For more information about real Cajun Mardi Gras customs, watch Dance for a Chicken, Louisiana filmmaker Pat Mire’s fascinating documentary about the origins of Mardi Gras and the survival of ancient traditions in rural communities. In particular, watch for some perceptive and thought provoking comments from the parish priest in Eunice, La., about how the Incarnation of Christ, the entry of God into our ordinary world, sanctifies and makes holy every aspect of everyday life. Have a happy Mardi Gras and a holy Lent!

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