by Caroline Marcello

Cajun Culture Runs Deep

There are many aspects that come together to create a truly unique culture in Southern Louisiana. Locals place a twist on just about everything, and women in particular love adding cajun flavor to everything they do. Their art, apparel, and stories shouldn’t be taken at face value because everything carries a deeper meaning than what meets the eye. Everything women touch in Louisiana has love, soul, and, of course, a cajun twist.

Art

An artist’s inspiration can come from practically anywhere, especially in South Louisiana. The southern state is rich with culture just waiting to be captured–in paintings, photos, and words. Artists don’t need to travel far to find inspiration. In fact, most of the landscape found in art is probably the artist’s backyard! Throughout the year many art shows and festivals are held to showcase work.

Annelise Delahoussaye is a local artist here in Thibodaux. She has had the unique experience of creating art with Tony Bernard. Even though Bernard isn’t a household name yet, he was the apprentice to George Rodrigue who is known word wide for his Blue Dog paintings. “It such a cool experience getting to work with Mr. Bernard. He is a huge up and coming artist in our area and he learned from the best,” said Delahoussaye. “I don’t think he thought about gender when he asked me to work with him but it was an empowering experience for me because he could have picked any of the other guys at the art show, but he picked me. He recognized my talent and it always feels good to get recognition for the work you put your heart and soul into.”

Annelise works on her art every chance she gets. Here she explains how she started painting and how her art has evolved into what it is today.

Apparel

Women in the South take pride in their appearance, and even more so in their children’s appearance. Andree’s Baby Boutique in Thibodaux caters to these women and their stylish children. They first started as an antique store but after twins were born into the family the Richard’s decide to take their local business in a new direction and started selling baby clothes.

Andree Richard, the store owner of the boutique, says that there is something special about southern mothers. They take pride in their culture and they share their love for their area with their children. “We sell a lot of cajun themed clothes. Our smocks have crawfish, alligators, snowballs, and things that only people in the south understand,” said Richard.

“When we go to the market every year these vendors only sell to Louisiana stores. It’s a thing down here that people in other states just don’t get,” said Richard. These special pieces that represent so much of our culture also can be handed down from family member to family member. “These are high-quality pieces so they last forever.” Mothers are able to get so much use out of Andree’s clothes, they are timeless pieces that their children can wear at any age and represent their favorite Louisiana tradition.

Stories

Everyone has heard of the childhood stories Little Red Riding Hood, The Tree Little Pigs, and The Night Before Christmas. Louisiana mothers read their children Petite Rouge, Les Trois Cochons: The Cajun 3 Little Pigs, and The Cajun Night Before Christmas. Cajun culture has even made its way into traditional folk tale stories.

The Cajun Night Before Christmas, written by “Trosclair” in 1992 has been a long time family favorite in many homes. The author took the traditional story and added cajun phrases like “Cuz dere on de by-you” (translated to cause here on the bayou) and “Den down de chimney” (translated to then down the chimney) to add a definite cajun flair.

Local authors have found a way to add a local influence into classic childhood stories to give children a greater appreciation for our cajun culture. Being from Galliano Louisiana, Andie Chiasson-Kearney has the cajun accent down pat and it gives the story a live animation of how it was meant to be read.

“We have The Cajun Night Before Christmas at my house and I read it to my son Lincoln every year,” said Kearney. These books give locals another opportunity to add southern culture in their children’s lives.

Check out an excerpt from The Cajun Night Before Christmas.