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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We’ve got a chicken on the run!

Happy Mardi Gras to all y’all and as we say here in the Bayou State ~ Laissez les bon temps rouler!  For those that don’t know, it means “Let the good times roll” and chere (baby, dear) we do.

As all good Cajuns know, the conclusion of the Christmas holiday leads straight to the Mardi Gras season. Twelfth Night (January 6) marks the official beginning of Mardi Gras. In New Orleans, this means the beginning of King Cake parties and formal balls for all the various Krewes.

In Southwest Louisiana, it marks the start of costume preparation and planning for the annual Courir de Mardi Gras, which means "Mardi Gras run” in French. This Cajun tradition, dating back to medieval times in France, consists of costumed men (Mardi Gras) on horseback galloping through the Southwestern Louisiana countryside in search of ingredients for a communal gumbo. Usually, the ride is accompanied by music and is followed by a street dance where the gumbo is cooked.

The Mardi Gras gather at dawn where they assemble under an open barn to hear instructions from their Capitaine.  They sing their song before they begin their run. As the video below show, the excitement and enthusiasm of the Mardi Gras is obvious.

If you go to any town in SW Louisiana to watch the Mardi Gras depart, there is one thing you must be prepared for.  You will need to be ready to reach into your pockets. Once the song is over, the Mardi Gras will surround you, begging insistently until you produce at least "cinq sous”, five cents. And they'll beg again and again, despite the co-capitaines' efforts and their whips to keep the Mardi Gras under control.

Each town has their own version of ‘Le Danse du Mardi Gras’, or Mardi Gras song.  Here is a video of the Basile leader, Capitaine Potic Rider,  leading their Mardi Gras in the song at a stop during the courir. 

The best translation of the song I can find is this:

Capitain, capitain, wave your flag and let’s get going.
The way is long, the night is long, and the women are not invited.

Chorus: All around the hub.

The Mardi Gras come once a year to ask for charity.
Anyhow, one time a year is not too often for you.

Chorus: It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.
It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.

The Mardi Gras come from far, they come from England.

Chorus: All around the hub.

The Mardi Gras are all good people
Good people who come from good families.

Chorus: All around the hub.

They are not wrong-doers. They are just beggars.

Chorus: It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.
It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.

The Mardi Gras ask the mistress,
The mistress for a small fat chicken, some rice, or some grease.

Chorus: All around the hub.

To make their big gumbo this evening in Big Basile.

It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.
It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.

You promise me this, you promise me that, but you don’t give me anything.

Chorus: All around the hub.
It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.
It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.

Capitain, Capitain, these wild Indians can no longer sing because their throats are dry.
A good little cold beer would make them sing better.

Chorus: It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.
It's hip, it's hip, it's hop, and my dear comrade.

So now I’m off to “run” to the kitchen and start my own gumbo.  

Thanks for stopping by y’all and remember to always “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

7 comments:

Michelle Hoad said...

All the silly Austinites wanting some excuse to celebrate something are doing Mardi Gras tonight. That means my husband won't get home from work till 2 am. Now I have to cook, damn it.

Schy said...

Oui Cher! Je voudrais KING CAKE now, s'il vous plait :)

Blessings from
A younger Creole sister living down da bayou,
Schy

Stuff could always be worse said...

Thanks for the info about Mardi Gras...I really do not know much about it
kim

Aunt Crazy said...

We have gone to Mardi Gras Galveston the last several years, this year too, and we love it! It's so much FUN!!!

Mr. Daddy said...

sheesh, and all this time I thought it was all about going to New Orleans and getting flashed by girls with big gabonzas.....

Boy did I have it all wrong or what...

“Laissez les bon temps rouler!” to you to....LOL

Sandy Nachlinger said...

My husband and I had jambalaya for dinner tonight in honor of Mardi Gras. Yummy.

Rachel said...

That'll teach me and my husband to have mutual blog friends... BUSTED!

(Or in this case, "BUSTY" - which he is so getting smacked for).

Love that you put the lyrics down here - cuz y'all are a wee bit of a challenge to lipread sometimes - but I love it!

And now I'm hungry. Mind if we come over for dinner?