Between the rolling hills of North Louisiana and the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, lives
the Cajun. Among the marshes and the bayous, the tall Bald Cypress, and the whispering
moss, he carries on the traditions of his hardy Nova Scotian ancestors, les Acadians, whose
flight from persecution brought them to the lush South Louisiana soil over two centuries
According to the "Cajun Dictionary" by Rev. Msgr. Jules O. Daigle, M.A., S.T.L., a Cajun is defined as "A descendant of original Acadian or anyone absorbed into the Cajun culture by marriage or choice." To elaborate a little more, Cajuns are the descendants of the 17th century French colonists who settled the region called Acadia, located in Nova Scotia, Canada. Nova Scotia was under British rule, and serious hardships and unfair rules were imposed upon the Acadians by the King of England. They had a choice--Either submit to the British mandates.....or leave! Rather than accepting these prejudices and unfair laws enforced upon them, as well as give up their religious beliefs, many chose exile. They lost their lands and all their possessions. Many also lost their lives. Expelled from Nova Scotia by the British in what was to become one of the largest exoduses of all times (beginning in 1755), about 2,500 Acadians began their journey down the Atlantic Coast in search of a new place to call home. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow provides us with a dramatic view of hardships endured during this mass exodus with his literary piece entitled, "Evangeline," which is a tale of two lovers who become separated during the exodus and search for each other afterwards. Many of those Acadians traveled from Canada to Louisiana and settled along the banks of the bayous in South Louisiana. As Acadian settlements spread across the bayous and prairies of Louisiana, the French term "Acadian" became shortened to "Cadien" and then to "Cajun." We Cajuns of today are a quiet and peace-loving people. Many outsiders have mistaken our kindness and hospitality as a sign of weakness and have tried on many occasions to take advantage of us. But when Cajuns are pushed beyond a certain limit, they can be considered among the fiercest of any peoples.
The Cajuns remain one of the most segregated ethnic groups in our country today. It has only recently become acceptable for a Cajun to marry outside his/her own ethnic group. They remain a strong and enigmatic people, though often mis-portrayed by some. There was a time when telling someone you were a Cajun was done with your head hung low. Thanks to modern education, we have come nearly full circle from this attitude. Because of a new aggressive push for the preservation of our culture, you will no longer see a Cajun with his/her head hung low when asked about their heritage. What you'll see are Cajuns standing tall, with heads held high, and proud to say "Yes!! I am a Cajun!!!" Lache pas la patate!!!
In other parts of the world, little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, while little boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
Little Cajun children, or Acadians, if you will, are made of gumbo, boudin and sauce piquante....crawfish stew and Oreilles de Cochon.
A Cajun child is given bayous to fish in, marshes to trap in, room to grow in, and churches to worship in.
A Cajun likes fiddles and accordians in his music, plenty of pepper in his courtbouillon, shrimp in his nets, speed in his horses, neighborliness in his neighbors, and love in his home.
A Cajun dislikes people who don't laugh enough, fish enough, or enjoy enough of all the good things God has given. He doesn't like to be hurried when he's resting or distracted when he's working. He doesn't like to see people unhappy, and he'll do all he can or give all he has, to bring a smile to a face stricken with sadness.
A Cajun likes to dance, laugh, and sing when his week of hard work has ended. And just as Saturday night at the fais-do-do replenishes his store of energy and his personal balance--so he can meet next week's chores with vigor--Sunday at Church refreshes his spirtual and moral values and keeps strong his always sustaining faith.
A link with a proud past, a Cajun is a man of tolerance who will let the world go its way if the world will let him go his. He is a man of great friendliness who will give you the crawfish off his table, the Sac-au-Lait off his hook, or the shirt off his back.
But if you cross a Cajun, he'll give you the back of his hand or the toe of his boot! If he likes you, he'll give you his whole wide, wonderful world. If he doesn't, he'll give you a wide berth.
A Cajun is a complex person, with as many ingredients in his makeup as there are in the gumbo Mama makes for special company. He has tolerance for those who earn it....charity for those who need it...a smile for those who return it...and a love for all who will share it.
BUT....a Cajun can be as stubborn as a mule and as ornery as an alligator. If he sets his head on something, he'll fight a circle saw before he'll yield to your opinions. You'd just as well argue with a fence post as to try to change the mind of a Cajun. And, as fun loving as he is, a Cajun can work as long and as hard as any man. He carved out "Acadiana" by hand, from the swamps and marshes and uncultivated prairies. But when the work is done and the argument ended, a Cajun can sweep you right into a wonderful world of joie de vivre with an accordion chorus of "Jolie Blonde," and a handful of happy little words....
Five little words to be exact....
"Laissez les bon temps rouller" !!
Let the good times roll !!