Besides observing regular holidays, Acadians love to celebrate other days in the way their ancestors did.
La Chandeleur – Candlemas: Years ago, the feast of Candlemas, on February 2, began in church with the blessing of the candles and was followed by a supper and an evening of music and dance. A few days prior to February 2, a group of people from the community would go from house to house in search of food for Candlemas. This group was led by an individual dressed up for the occasion and holding a long cane decorated with ribbons of various colours. Where food was given out, the group would dance the Escaouette as a way of thanking the householders. We called this activity “courir la Chandeleur” (running the Candlemas). On the day in question, people would get together at a pre-designated location, where they would have supper and spend the evening singing and dancing. Today, all that is left is the supper and dance in a community hall.
Mardi Gras – In the past, we called “Shrovetide” the three days preceding Ash Wednesday, during which time all work came to a halt. It was time to party. Friends and family visited each other; evenings were spent playing cards, or dancing if there was music. Today, we observe Shrove Tuesday only and we do it with a pancake supper followed by a dance at a community hall. The yearly Mardi Gras festivities in Southern Louisiana originated with the Acadians who brought the custom with them to the U.S. when they settled there following their expulsion from Nova Scotia.
Mi-Carême – For our ancestors, Lent was a time of sacrifice during which time no amusement of any kind was permitted. In order to have a break from the monotony of this 40 day period, on the Thursday marking the exact half time of Lent, people began to disguise themselves and go from house to house while trying to keep their identity a secret. The householders would try to guess who was behind the mask and costume. With time, the Mi-Carême was extended to cover the whole third week of Lent. The festivities now begin on Sunday with an evening called “Laissons entrer les mi-carêmes”(Let the mi-carêmes in), which takes place in the community centre.. The evening consists of musical entertainment, dancing, goodies, and of course, mi-carêmes!. The Mi-Carême is officially started!. We “run” the Mi-Carême every day and every night of that week and the whole thing comes to a close with another social evening on Saturday night.
Here is a link for more information on Mi-Carême
Feast of the Assumption – It was in 1881, at an Acadian congress in Memramcook, N.B., that our ancestors designated August 15, feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, as the national feast of the Acadians. Today, we start the day with mass where we sing “Ave Maris Stella”, the national anthem of the Acadians, and we end the day with an evening of celebration “à l’Acadienne”