"The Mardi Gras festival came about as a 'last day before lent; Catholic time of fasting', leading up to Easter. Many Catholics in Cajun Country, give up drinking, as their penance, and some give up eating their favorite foods, such as Gumbo.

The Courir de Mardi Gras dress up in brightly colored costumes and ride horseback, around the Town to ask the farmers for a donation to make Gumbo when they return to the center of town. The wives traditionally make the Gumbo. The Captain of the Mardi Gras tells them to hold back and wait til he gives the signal to stampede onto the farm. The Captain asks the farmers to donate chicken, sausage, rice or Roux to make the Gumbo. If the farmer says yes, then, the Captain waves his flag to signal the Courirs to come on; many times, the farmer gives them a live chicken, but, they have to chase it to get it.

As a show of appreciation, the Mardi Gras wagon of singers, accordion players, harmonica and triangle players perform for the farmer and the Mardi Gras riders dance for the farmer; some dance on the saddle of their horse.

Once they have circled the Town, making 30+ stops, they return to the center of Town and everybody dances and of course, they drink. The song is not about drinking, only about their travels and the charity for the Gumbo." -Tami Landreneau

Notes

*Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent but also refers to the costumed people also called "masqués" (masked ones).
**There's a variant that goes, "Tout à l'entour du fond d'hiver" (All around the end of winter).
***By getting her to dance!

Comments

The Tee Mamou version of "La Chanson de Mardi Gras" is believed to have its origins in a French song from about 400 years ago.

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"Rural Mardi Gras: Iota Louisiana

Though the households to be visited along the route are pre-arranged, the capitaine asks permission from the head of the house for the Mardi Gras to enter. When the capitaine waves his flag, the Mardi Gras dismount the truck and approach the house, chanting their song in unison. The Tee Mamou song, different from the better known versions of Basile or Mamou, is performed without instruments and is closely related to an ancient New Year's Eve begging song found in France, French Canada." -Eric Breaux
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