The Gay Side of Mardi Gras: Take Pride

Ever heard of Yuga. If you are like me, for many years, I had not. When I did, I thought people were mispronouncing yoga and was somewhat confused by why yoga would be in a Mardi Gras parade. I was even more confused as to how that looked. Before I get into it, thank you for being here to help me celebrate the upcoming release of my sports romance, Ice Gladiators, on 02/15/20. I will be making random bonus posts until the release date as well as hosting giveaways and other special surprises. Please read to the end to find out more about the giveaway.

If you have been following along, I released two posts earlier today, both about Valentine’s Day. But there is another holiday coming up that I am excited about, and that, of course, is Mardi Gras. I could not have a celebration without talking about my favorite holiday of the year. Since the characters in Ice Gladiators, live in Louisiana, celebrate Mardi Gras, and are gay men, this discussion of Yuga seems fitting. So, away we go with Yuga, and it has nothing to do with Star Wars or Yoda.

This would not be a complete celebration if I did not mention Mardi Gras. Mostly, I will be using the terms Mardi Gras and Carnival interchangeably, although, that is not technically correct. Most people have come to use the term Mardi Gras to refer to all of Carnival or the entire celebratory period. However, Mardi Gras specifically refers to Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday (i.e., the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent). Fat Tuesday is the last day of Carnival. I will refrain from discussing it here because I have discussed it at length in several other posts. I will link those posts at the end in case you are interested in learning the history of Mardi Gras and the significance of events or customs.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a krewe (krōō)is defined as a private organization staging festivities (such as parades) during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

The Krewe of Yuga was the first “official” gay krewe and/or ball of Mardi Gras. It was formed in the late 1950s; however, underground and/or secretive gay krewes had been in existence long before then. The difference between Yuga and its predecessors is that Yuga was recognized as being an authentic krewe. Today, the krewe is no longer in existence, but it is credited as being the grandfather to modern gay krewes, including the Krewe of Amon-Ra and the Krewe of Petronius and a vital force in the Gay Rights Movement. Originally, Krewe of Yuga acted as a parody of traditional (heterosexual) Mardi Gras krewes and allow people who were gay an opportunity to socialize during Carnival. Its Carnival court consisted of a Captain, King, Queen, maids, and debutantes clad in outrageously handmade costumes. As is the tradition with modern Carnival courts, the Yuga court was presented at a Mardi Gras ball. Many gay Carnival balls exist today. Some of the better knows ones are Krewe of Amon-Ra, Krewe of Armeinius, Lords of Leather, Krewe of Mwindo, Krewe of Stars, and Mystic Krewe of Satyricon.

  1. Amon-Ra, founded in 1965, takes its name from the Egyptian god of the sun. It is a non-profit corporation, gay social Mardi Gras krewe. Attendance to their Mardi Gras ball is by invitation only. Initially, the Amon-Ra ball had to be kept secret in order to prevent being raided and shut down by the police.
  2. Armeinius was established in 1969, and its bylaws state that its ball must be held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day. Its ball is prestigious and to receive a table invitation indicates that a person is acknowledged by the New Orleans gay society. According to the Krewe of Armeinius, one of its main purposes is to preserve the history and pass down the tradition of the craft of creating and/or making Mardi Gras costumes. The organization also aims to archive gay memorabilia (e.g., historical documents and photographs). In fact, it is one of the largest gay historical archives in the United States.
  3. The name gives away the key feature of Lords of Leather. This krewe is the only leather-oriented krewe in the nation. Their balls consist of medieval themes and traditions. They host a Mardi Gras Bal Masque. To find them, look no further than The Phoenix, which is their “home bar.”
  4. The Krewe of Petronius has a founding date of 1961 and has nothing to do with J.K Rowling’s patronus charm or the wizarding world; although, the Petronius is quite magical. The krewe’s name derives from Gaius Petronius Arbiter, an ancient Rome gay writer and courtier during Emperor Nero’s reign. Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a member of the senatorial class who lavished in a life of pleasure. This krewe is known for hosting some of the most lavish and creative Carnival balls.
  5. In 1998, the Krewe of Mwindo was formed. It is one of the newest gay krewes. What makes this organization unique is its devotion to including persons who were excluded from traditional celebrations. Let me mention an aside here. All of the gay krewes seek for inclusivity of the gay community into Carnival as well as into society. This always has been a goal. However, the formulation of having specific gay krewes is similar to the inclusion of masks for persons of color and of lower economic status. (I go into greater details about Mardi Gras masks in previous posts. See the link below if you’re interested to learn more.)
  6. Even newer than Mwindo is the Krewe of Stars. It was organized in 2017. This Krewe is committed to underscoring the citizens of local communities. Additionally, they heavily support the theater and the performing arts. At their hosted Mardi Gras Tableau Ball, they recognize members of the community for their contribution and excellence in the arts, media, music, and theater.
  7. One of the largest gay krewes is the Mystic Krewe of Satyricon.

All of the mentioned Krewes have websites, and they appreciate donations. Please visit them to learn more or help them continue their traditions and/or philanthropies or to become a part of their organizations. They would appreciate any love shown.

There is one other feature of Mardi Gras that embraces and places a spotlight on gay culture and that is the Bourbon Street Awards. The Bourbon Street Awards are held annually on the morning of Fat Tuesday. To say that it is the ultimate costume contest of Carnival is an understatement. Categories for awards include Best Drag, Best Group, Best Leather, and Best Overall Costume. Celebrities emcee the contest.

This year, Fat Tuesday is February 25. For Mardi Gras packages and parade schedules in New Orleans, visit Mardi Gras New Orleans.

Please share your Mardi Gras/Carnival Experience in the comments below. What is your favorite parade or ball? Have you ever participated in court? Have you ever danced the night away at a Carnival ball? Have you ever attended one of the gay parades? What has been your favorite Carnival costume?

If you enjoyed this post and are interested in me writing more along these lines, please let me know in the comment section below. Also, if learning more about Mardi Gras strikes you fancy, visits my previous posts Mardi Gras From the Bayou or Mardi Gras Exposed and get some real tea.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way sponsored or affiliated by any person, brand, or product mentioned herein. I make no money or obtain any sort of financial gain or gifts from the mentioned brands. If you are interested in any person, brand, or product listed, please visit the brand or product website and learn more about their products and services to make an informed decision for yourself.

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Play That Zydeco Again

Play that what? I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, thank you for visiting today’s bonus post, which comes a part of my month-long celebration of the upcoming release of my new sports romance novel, Ice Gladiators. Ice Gladiators is being released on 02/15/20. I’ll link details at the bottom of this page. I’m so thrilled about sharing Ice Gladiators that I’m writing posts on anything related to the story, and you guessed it. Music is in the story. And since this is Creole Bayou, where everything Creole, Cajun, and Louisiana are on tap, and Ice Gladiators is set in Louisiana, there’s no better music than to talk about than zydeco. Anyone who’s ever walked in the French Quarter knows music is big in Louisiana. And anyone who has ever attended a sporting event knows how the important role music plays there as well. Therefore, this topic as a bonus post had to happen.

Okay, let’s start with a discussion about the name: Zydeco ( ̍zī·də·ˌkō). Most cultural anthropologists and Louisiana historians agree that the name originates from the French term les haricots, which when spoken phonetically sounds similar to zydeco. Some variations of zydeco are zologo, zodico, zordico, and zarico. Les haricots translate to mean “beans.” However, there are other theories floating out there, one being that it originates from the African language word zari. Zari means dance. I will stick with this one since it is the most accepted But what do beans have to do with music one may wonder. The popular answer to this question is that the name derives from “Les haricots sont pas sale.”

Les haricots sont pas salés is a common Creole phrase that translates to, “The snap beans aren’t salty.” The expression is used to express hard economic and financial times. This stemmed from the practice using salted meat to season many Creole dishes. During the era that zydeco music was first played and became popular, times were hard for many Creoles. Their day consisted of long hours of manual labor (e.g., working in cotton or sugarcane fields). There were times when many Creoles could not afford to buy salted meat; hence, their food was less seasoned or not seasoned. Common themes of much zydeco music are ill-fated love, injustice, loneliness, being poor, and death (a.k.a., hard times, just like the expression). Additionally, many Creole songs used this phrase as part of the lyrics. Zydeco was feel-good dance music that lyrically expressed what people felt at the time while allowing them a temporary mode of escape through dance.

Zydeco is characterized by the “typical” flow of rhythm or music that is interrupted by displaced accents or beats. The origins of zydeco can be traced to what is known as jure music—an a cappella (originally in Creole dialect), hand-clapping, foot-stomping religious music that black field hands sang to give thanks and pray. This largely was because the black field hands did not own and/or could not afford instruments. Furthermore, if they did own instruments, it would have been inconvenient for them to have them in the fields. Eventually, jure songs were converted and transformed to have secular subjects, and this became known as la musique creole or LaLa. Amédé Ardoin (03/11/1898 – 11/03/1942) is credited with having made the first recordings of zydeco in 1928. (Note, there is some discrepancy about the year of his recording. What in Creole culture isn’t disputed? Some experts say the year was 1929. I don’t know because I wasn’t born, and I found two very good sources, both in disagreement. Therefore, I will say, the first recording was either in 1928 or 1929. If any reader discovers a definitive answer, please write it in the comments below with the link.) One of his most popular songs is titled, Mama, I’ll Be Long Gone. As an aside, a life-sized statue of Amédé Ardoin is erected at the St. Landry Parish Visitor Center.

In the earliest forms, zydeco mainly was musicians playing washboards and accordions. It expanded to include pianos, guitars, basses, drums, fiddles/violins, and vest frottoirs. A vest frottoir, also called rubboards, is a type of American invented percussion instrument constructed of compressed, crenelated stainless steel that is worn over the shoulders and extends downs the abdomen. The wearer plays it by stroking spoons or bottle opens on the ridges. The French word frottoir translates to mean “friction strip.” Today, Zydeco is a lively, syncopated dance music genre that blends jazz, blues, spiritual/gospel, and R&B.

So, how does a person dance to zydeco music? The simple answer is, however you like. There is no set rule of how one is supposed to dance to a specific song or type of music. People in love can be seen slow-dancing, barely swaying side-to-side in the middle of a mosh pit to angry metal music. Okay, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my gist. Interestingly, traditionally zydeco dancing is similar to an in-place, side-to-side swing dance. The footwork is done in an eight-count and would look similar to the following: slow (step pause)/ quick (step)/ quick (step), slow (step pause)/ quick (step)/ quick(step). Of course, there are variations of this, but this is the basic. Most people agree that zydeco invokes a feeling that innately goads a person on how to move or dance to it. Honestly, as long as a person is having fun and not getting into anyone else’s space (unless invited), it does not matter how he/she dances to the beat.

The most common dancer attire for zydeco is jeans/denim and cowboy boots. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. What is a hard and fast rule is that whatever clothing worn should be comfortable and allow one to move freely and unrestrictedly. It also should be lightweight to avoid becoming overheated. This includes shoes. Nothing will ruin an evening faster than having shoes pinch your feet all night or rub blisters.

By now, you may have noticed that I keep using the term Creole and not Cajun. That is because zydeco is not Cajun in origin. On the contrary, it is indigenous to the Creoles of Louisiana. In previous posts, I’ve discussed the difference between Creole and Cajun; therefore, I won’t discuss it again here other than to say the two are not the same. If you’re interested in more on the differences between the two cultures, visit The Difference Between Creole & Cajun, Creole FAQ, Cane River Culture, and Say What? Creole Language. These are just a few of the posts I’ve made covering the subject. Browse around the bayou to find a lot more.

Additionally, I have also written a post on zydeco music previously. While some of the information is the same here (history can’t be rewritten, at least, not with conviction by sane and rational people with a moral core), my previous post only gave a short overview. However, in that previous post, I did list some of the most popular musicians who play zydeco, and it is fitting that I list them here as well. I did update this list; so, it’s not exactly the same. (Disclaimer, I am not affiliated with or sponsored by any person, product, or brands listed herein.) This list is created for informational purposes only and not exhaustive. However, it is a good starting point for anyone wanting to hear some authentic zydeco. Most of the musicians listed have sites where their music can be downloaded. They are listed in no particular order. I’ve included their links whenever possible.

That wraps up this post for today. Do you enjoy zydeco music? Who is your favorite zydeco musician? Have you ever been zydeco dancing? If yes, what was your experience? What is your favorite type of music? Tell me your opinions below. Also, if you would like to read more posts of this nature, leave a comment.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Trivia, Trivia, Trivia: Creole and Cajun Style

One request that I get a lot of is for Louisiana, Cajun, and Creole trivia. I do my best, but my readers are getting a little too good for me. But as you all know, if you ask, you shall receive. Since this post comes as part of my celebration of the release of Ice Gladiators, I’ve decided to shake it up a bit and add some hockey and romance trivia to the mix.

  1. The Myrtles Plantation, which is now a hotel, is often called the most haunted house in America. It was constructed in 1796 in St. Francisville, Louisiana, by General David Bradford, a revolutionary war general. At the time, the area was a Spanish colony. It received its name from the Crepe Myrtles that were on the property. Legend holds that over the years, ten murders have occurred in the house, and the ghosts of the murdered have been sighted frequently. The most famous of these murdered ghosts is named Chloe. Reportedly, she was a slave who had a sexual relationship (either voluntarily, coerced, or forced—it is unclear which) with the master of the home, Clarke Woodruff. After allegedly being caught eavesdropping, the master ordered that her ear be severed as punishment. As a retaliation, Chloe allegedly poisoned the master’s family while he was away. (Some allege it was Woodruff’s wife and three kids. Some say he only had two kids. It doesn’t matter how many really. She killed them all.) For this, she was lynched on the property. Some say she was lynched by other slaves who feared the master would find out what she’d done and punish them all. Others say the master order it. It doesn’t matter about that either because she’s dead now, too. Only…maybe…she doesn’t know that since she’s still hanging around. You would think she would be bored by now. Or maybe she’s learned how to play X-Box.
  2. Saint Valentine, the patron saint of love, has two U.S. cities named after him: Valentine, Texas and Valentine, Nebraska. One would think in there would be more.
  3. Dale Hawerchuck of the Winnipeg Jets was the youngest player 100-point hockey player. Dale was just shy of his nineteenth birthday when he set the record in the 1981-1982 season.
  4. Despite French and Spanish legal bans on racial mixing, during the American colonial era (1492-1763), it was common practice and culturally acceptable for plantation owners and farmers to enter into lengthy relationships with enslaved Africans and American Indians. The offspring of these relationships frequently were granted freedom (“gens de couleur libres“-or “free people of color”). This helped to form an influential class of people who blended aspects of African, Indian, Spanish, French, and American cultures. The descendants of these free people of color in the Cane River region became known as Cane River Creoles.
  5. During the American Civil War, beer was taxed to help the union fund the war against the confederate.
  6. Many of the old homes in Louisiana are referred to as shotgun house. While this term has come to mean a small home or a house in need of repair, shotgun home originally referred to a house’s layout. A shotgun house is one that is narrow and every room is in a straight line from the front entrance to the rear of the home with no hallways as separation. They received the name shotgun home because a person could stand in the front entrance, aim at the rear entrance, fire a shotgun, and never hit a wall. Now, you know someone had to try this to come up with this. Better bet this deterred some burglaries and extramarital affairs. Just saying.
  7. The first record diamond engagement ring was presented to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477.
  8. In 1980, while celebrating an Olympic win over the Soviets, the U.S. team forgot the words to God Bless America. How embarrassing. That’s one of those side-eyed moments.
  9. What is known as “The Holy Trinity” in Cajun cuisine (onion, celery, and bell pepper) frequently serve as the base for many Cajun dishes. Other common spices found in Cajun cuisine are green onions, thyme, garlic, paprika, and sassafras. Cajuns cuisine also is known to have simpler recipes with fewer ingredients, a medley of veggies, and shorter cooking time. Creole cuisine, on the other hand, is sometimes referred to as “city” food and is known for its richness, sauces, roux, and contained more ingredients (e.g., remoulade sauce). Many Creole dishes include seafood and tomatoes. This is not to say that Cajun dishes exclude these ingredients or that the inclusion of these ingredients makes a dish Creole. However, history speak, Creole kitchens had access to more “exotic” ingredients. Partially, although not without controversy, this is thought to be linked to the wider diversity in Creole culture than Cajun culture.
  10. Louisiana has four state songs. The names of the songs are: “Give Me Louisiana,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “State March Song,” and “Gifts of the Earth.” Why choose one when you can have four, right?
  11. During the 1928-1929 season, George Hainsworth or the Montreal Canadiens was the first goaltender to have twenty or more shutouts in a single season. He also set another record of playing 270 minutes and 8 seconds without allowing a goal during the playoffs. Hainsworth also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Saskatoon Sheiks.
  12. The term Creole originally was used to describe a person born in or indigenous to Louisiana. This included both white colonists and African slaves who were “native-born”. Over time, the term has been used to refer to persons of mixed European and black descent. To further muddy the water, more distinctions were made: French Creole (European ancestry), Black Creole (primarily African ancestry), Creole of Color (mixed-race ancestry), and to describe persons whose ancestry are from Francophone and Hispanic communities. The term is also used to refer to as blended French, African, Russian, Italian, German, Chinese, Spanish, and Native American. Then, others used the term to refer to only free people of color. Sometimes, the term is used to refer to anything “pertaining to New Orleans”. Confused yet?
  13. One of the most popular Mardi Gras parades is Rex. The first Rex parade occurred in 1872 as an entertainment for Alexis Romanoff, the Grand Duke of Russia, who was visiting Louisiana. The Krewe of Rex is now one of the oldest participating groups in Mardi Gras and consists of 600 male riders. The Rex Organization is credited for starting the tradition of naming a parading carnival king.
  14. Remember years ago when a popular magazine wrote an article the likelihood of women over 30 getting married was less than getting hit by a bus or some neurotic crap like that? Well, heads up older women. The age of the oldest bride document is Minnie Munro was 102 years young when she got hitched on 05/31/91. And she married a younger man. The groom was only 83. You go, girl.
  15. Wild cabbage traditionally was considered to be a homeopathic aphrodisiac. Scoot over J.K. Rowling’s Amortentia. There’s a new potion in town.
  16. The largest Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans is Endymion, and it occurs the Saturday prior to Fat Tuesday. The parade consists of over 50 marching bands and 70 floats.
  17. There are nine designated faceoff spots on a hockey rink.
  18. The French Quarters is referred to as Vieux Carre, which translates to mean Old Square. The French Quarters is the oldest part of New Orleans and consists of 78 square blocks.
  19. The oldest sex manuals were published in China more than 5,000 years ago. Well, now.
  20. And since the number 5,000 came up, beer dates back to at least 5000 BC.

Thanks for reading along. I hope that you enjoyed today’s trivia. If you like these types of posts and would like to see more of them, please leave me a comment below. Keep a lookout for more bonus posts during my celebratory month, and keep reading for details about my giveaway and where you can get your copy of Ice Gladiators. If you know anyone who would enjoy this post, please share.

Coming February 2020… Ice Gladiators… Hockey so hot it melts the ice.

Preorder: www.books2read.com/icegladiators

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Mardi Gras Exposed

It’s that time again for throwing beads, feasting on king cake, awing at spectacular floats, and dancing in the streets. What time is it? Why it’s Carnival, of course. No, not a country fair, but Mardi Gras.

Last year, I posted an article that gave an introduction to Mardi Gras for those who are interested but do not know much about the celebration. I was asked to do something similar this year. Since a lot of the information is historical, some of this article may be a repetition of my last year’s post. However, in this post, I will attempt to be more detailed. So, let’s begin with the obvious facts first.

When is Fat Tuesday this year? March 5, 2019

Why is Mardi Gras celebrated in March this year when it was celebrated in February last year? Okay, sit back and get ready for a micro history lesson. The date of Mardi Gras is set according to when Easter Sunday is celebrated by the Orthodox Christian churches. Easter is celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the March Equinox. There are two equinoxes every year. One is in March and one in September. The Equinox is when the length of the day and night are nearly equal due to the sun shining directly on the equator. This is not a fixed date.

What is the difference between Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday? The French word for Tuesday is Mardi, and the French word for fat is Gras. In the French language, adjectives come after the noun. Hence, translated Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday. The term Mardi Gras is often used to refer to the entire carnival season, but specifically, it is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday is the last day of Carnival. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

What are Ash Wednesday and Lent? Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is a Christian holy day that derives its name from the blessing of palm leaf ashes that have been used in the celebration of the Christian holy day of Palm Sunday. The palm leaves are burned and the ashes are placed on the forehead of celebrants by a priest to denote their period of fasting. Ash Wednesday occurs forty days (not including Sundays) before Easter.

Lent is the six week period that precedes Easter and begins with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. It is a solemn time when Christian prepare for the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Easter Sunday. (Technically, it ends on Saturday, but that’s a different discussion.) Generally, during Lent, Christians engage in fasting and abstinence as a remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice.

What is Mardi Gras’ relationship to Ash Wednesday and Lent? Mardi Gras occurs the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday occurs forty days (not including Sundays) before Easter.

What is Shrove Tuesday? It is another term for Fat Tuesday. The word “shrove” derives from the word “shrive”, which means to absolve. The easiest way to explain this is to take a historical look at Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent, the time in which Christians reflect and penance. Being the day before Lent—a period of abstinence, almsgiving, prayer, reflection, and fasting—Christians would remove from their household any items they would abstaining from during the 40 days of Lent. Often, this included food, many of which were fatty or causes one to become fat (e.g., meats, sweets, and alcohol). What better way to remove these items than to have one big ol’ party and pig out? Because of this, it gained the nickname of Fat Tuesday.

I need to stop and do an aside. There are some historians that will argue that Mardi Gras originated from a pagan tradition. During this pagan tradition, a fat ox was paraded while onlookers indulged in binge drinking and eating. Other historians argue that Shrove Tuesday originated from the pagan celebrations of Lupercalia and Saturnalia, which celebrated fertility and spring.

What is Carnival? Carnival is the season of festivities that stem from the Roman Catholic tradition and celebration of Lent. (For an explanation of Lent, refer to the previous question.) Carnival begins on January 6, which is the Feast of Epiphany. The Feast of Epiphany is also called the Twelfth Night. Three Kings Day, or the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Carnival lasts from January 6 until midnight of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). It is a time of celebration, feasting, fun, and parties before the beginning of Lent when the abstaining begins.

What are carnival balls? Carnival balls are fancy parties and/or grand events (many are masquerade) that begin on January 6 with the Twelfth Night Ball hosted by the Twelfth Night Revelers and continue throughout the season. More than one hundred carnival balls occur in New Orleans and have been occurring since the beginning of the celebration of Carnival. The first krewe ball was held in 1857 by the Mistick Krewe of Comus. Today, most of these balls are by invitation-only, and the general public is not privy to the full grandness of carnival. During the ball, there is a king cake cutting ceremony. According to tradition, the person who found the bean (the feve) hidden in the cake would host the next ball.

What is king cake? King cake is more of a bread than what most people consider cake. It a Mardi Gras staple. It is a dessert made with brioche dough, cinnamon, and glazed with purple, gold, and green sugar an icing. The name stems from the Biblical story of the three kings who brought gifts to Baby Jesus. Inside the cake is a plastic baby. Whoever is served the baby in his/her slice of cake is blessed with good fortune but also must purchase the next king cake for everyone to share.

What are the colors of Mardi Gras? The colors associated with Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold.

Do the colors of Mardi Gras have any symbolic meaning? Why, yes, they do. Purple is a symbol of justice and royalty. Green is a symbol of faith. Gold is a symbol of prestige and power.

What are flambeaux? Flambeaux are the torch carries. The first Mardi Gras parade was in 1857, twenty-two years before the invention of electricity. In order to have night parades, the streets parade route needed to be lit. In comes the flambeaux. Flambeaux means torchlight. Flambeaux carriers originally were slaves and free men of color who carried torches along the parade route. However, they didn’t just carry the torches. They twirled, danced, and performed tricks to the delight of spectators. To this day, flambeaux carriers are an integral part of Carnival.

Why do people wear masks during Mardi Gras? There are several theories to this. However, I will only discuss the most popular one here. Masks were first worn during Mardi Gras by the krewes, which were (and still mostly are) secret and elite societies. The masks were used to conceal the identity of krewe members, many of who engaged in outlandish and outrageous behaviors. It grew in popularity because it allowed all celebrants to be equal. Slaves and people of lower social economic status could blend amongst the wealthy and affluent.

What does laissez les bons temps rouler mean? It means “let the good times roll”. This term is Cajun French. While it is a well-known phrase, it is not usually used in French-speaking countries.

Who developed the tradition of naming a carnival king? The Rex Organization is credited for starting the tradition of naming a parading carnival king. Rex, founded in 1872, is one of the oldest participating groups in Mardi Gras. The Krewe of Rex consists of 600 male riders.

I hope this was both informative and entertaining. If you have a Mardi Gras question that was not covered here, please list it below.

Enjoy sports romance? Check out my new adult romance, Defending the Net, released on November 10. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It will be sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first in my hockey romance series? Don’t worry. Out of the Penalty Box, an adult romance where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Copies of all my books and stories are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed in my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my novels or stories.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click https://genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com/newsletter/ and signup today.

Finally, if you or anyone you know are interested in joining a college Greek life organization, check out my special series posted each Monday for everything you wanted (and didn’t want) to know about college fraternities and sororities. Visit Sorority Bible Table of Contents to view any or all of these posts.

DISCLAIMER: Creole Bayou is not sponsored or being paid to endorse any business, website, person, podcast, broadcast, videos, philanthropy, or products. Any shoutouts given is due to personally liking a product or cause. There is no intention to slight any competitors or introduce bias. If you have a product or service that is related to anything mentioned in this post and would like a shoutout in the future, please do not hesitate to contact via email to inform me of such product or service.

All About Creole

As I explained in last’s week post, I’m compiling a list of my most popular blogs, as I ponder the direction to improve Creole Bayou. Today’s post will be a listing of my informational blogs. In writing each of these posts, it was my intention to enlighten and bring compile hard-to-find information about Creole life in one spot in an accurate and objective manner. The information is meant for anyone interested in this topic. In these posts, readers will find information about origins of the Creole flag, zydeco music, Cane River, Creole French, Mardi Gras, Fleur de Lis, and much more.

The Importance of Heritage:

Preserving Heritage:

The Difference Between Creole & Cajun:

Creole Flag:

Fleur de Lis:

 

Say What? Creole Language:

Play that Zydeco:

Creole FAQ:

Cane River Culture:

Mardi Gras: (Creoles Influence in Mardi Gras)

Laissez Bon Temp Rouler: (Creole Festivals)

Racial passing pt1: Betty Boop Caused Trouble

Racial passing pt 2: one drop:

Creole & Cajun Funeral Ceremonies:

https://genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/how-to-jazz-up-a-funeral-creole-and-cajun-funerals/

Voodoo:

Weather BreakWeather Break (How to prepare for Hurricanes):

The Cajun Navy:

 

Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou again. New posts are made on Wednesdays. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

My new book, Out of the Penalty Box, a fiction romance is now available for at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.

My sensual short story “Cargo” in Pirates: Boys Behaving Badly Anthology #3 is available for purchase. Find it at http://amzn.to/2DV5btz.

Copies of all my books and stories are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed in my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my novels or stories.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click on http://bit.ly/2zJjUdb and signup today.

If you enjoy reading this blog, please share it with your friends and family. There’s never too many people in the bayou. Spread the word.

Author Interview – Jan Maher

It is always a splendid thing to have visitors here in the bayou, but it is thrilling to have some as talented as Jan Maher drop in for an interview. Jan is Jan Maher is the author of Heaven, Indiana and Earth As It Is.  She has written several plays and is a senior scholar at the Institute for Ethics in Public Life, SUNY Plattsburgh. She holds a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies: Theater, Education, and Neuroscience. She most recently taught interdisciplinary seminars, education-related courses, and documentary studies at Burlington College at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Furthermore, she is currently a senior scholar at the Institute for Ethics in Public Life, State University of New York at Plattburgh.

  1. Do you have any writing rituals?

I always write first in longhand, in my journals. As a daily, or nearly daily ritual, I write in coffee houses. If I’m really in an intense phase of writing, I might begin in one place for morning coffee, write till I’m momentarily tapped out, move to a second place for lunch and write more till the flow stops, then move to a third place for the afternoon. Usually, though, it’s just one coffee house for two hours. A seasonal ritual is to take a long-distance train (usually round-trip Albany, NY to Seattle, WA and back) and regard the time on Amtrak as a writing retreat. Sometimes I’m already working on a particular project, other times I use overheard snippets of conversation in the observation car as writing prompts for new stories or poems.

  1. Which of your characters would most likely be a member of the Phunny Phorty Fellows? Why did you pick this character?

Definitely Jacque. She’s a minor character, but the most likely to want to be in costume in public. She’s from Dallas originally and lives in Chicago when we meet her in my novel, Earth As It Is. Of the small band of cross-dressers who meet for tea, cookies, and conversation on the near north side of Chicago in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, Jacque is also the one who feels a need and makes a decision to transition to female in the 60s. Her willingness to flirt in a Chicago gay club with a man who turns out to be a gay basher distinguishes her from her friends (including my main character) who are far more focused on blending in than on standing out.

  1. How old were you when you wrote your first story? What was it about?

My ready answer is that I wrote before I could read. My mother was a commercial artist and she had beautiful handwriting. I was fascinated that her marks on paper were both elegant and meaningful to others. I would have been around 3 or 4 when I filled several pages with loops and swirls in imitation of her cursive and asked her to read the story to me, explaining that though I could write, I couldn’t yet read. It turns out the story she read to me was about a little girl who was sent to reform school because she never cleaned her room when her mother asked her to! I complained, of course, about the content. She told me if I didn’t like the story I’d have to learn how to read as well as write. So I did, though not till a couple of years later. And after that, when I was sent to my room to clean it, I would instead hide behind the bed and read books.

(Thinking about it now, for the first time it occurs to me that this primed me for receptivity to Toni Morrison’s comment that if there’s a book that you want to read and it hasn’t been written yet, you must write it. I’ve loved that idea ever since I first heard it decades ago.)

In sixth grade, we had an assignment to write a poem. I played clarinet at the time, and I remember only the first line of the poem I wrote. “Mozart, why do you torture me?”

  1. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be?

This is a fascinating question. At first, I thought it would be difficult to answer, but very quickly I settled on Helen Breck. Helen is a woman who lives her life in fear that her secrets will be revealed and ruin her. I would like to tell her it’s all right. That history will move on and the things she felt and did will be understood and forgiven.

  1. What was your favorite childhood book?

This is a toss-up between three answers: The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, Heidi by Joanna Spyri, and just about any Nancy Drew mystery. I always wanted, and never had, a horse. I read every book about horses in the Fort Wayne, Indiana public library, but The Black Stallion was the first. As I remember it, the appeal was the close relationship between the boy and the horse. Heidi I loved because I loved to think about living on a mountaintop, living simply and self-sufficiently, living in tune with nature. Nancy Drew was always solving mysteries which generally involved getting into trouble and back out again. I vaguely remember one in which she infiltrates a Klan gathering and figures out who the villain is by looking at shoes. I have no idea if my memory is accurate on this.

  1. Do you have any writing mentors? If so, who are they?

Though I never had the opportunity to work with her in person, I consider Carol M. Bly to have been a mentor. I discovered her book, The Passionate, Accurate Story, in a Chicago used bookstore about the same time that I’d begun to turn my attention from playwriting to fiction, and found it to be amazingly perceptive and useful. Shortly after, I met her online in a writers’ board on AOL, back in the mid-90s when AOL was the only game in town and there were special discussion boards similar to today’s Facebook groups. One was called “Integrity and Art in Fiction” and Carol was a regular poster there. This led to an online and email friendship that lasted until her death in 2007. I still have the note she wrote me after I sent her a copy of my first novel.

  1. How important is it that you portray diversity in your characters?

Very. That takes a lot of different forms, depending on which of my writing projects is considered. In my play, Most Dangerous Women, for example, the words and songs of close to 80 women are included, and they comprise a wide range of nationalities, ethnicities, and ages, as well as a range of historical eras. In my novel, Earth As It Is, the focus is mostly on gender diversity. My main character identifies as a heterosexual and is a cross-dresser. That character’s friends include other heterosexual cross-dressers as well as one, Jacque (mentioned above), who will eventually transition m to f. In Heaven, Indiana, the characters in my small, fictional town are dealing with the legacy of slavery times even when they don’t realize it. Indiana is a state with a complex and contradictory history with regard to race, having been one of the free border states pre-and during the Civil War and home to a large anti-slavery population and extensive Underground Railroad system; then becoming a state completely dominated by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. That mix of influences is something I was very much aware of growing up in Indiana during the 1950s and is still in evidence today in the culture and politics of the state. That legacy impacts my characters’ lives in a variety of ways.

In another sense, I would say that I’m interested in always portraying the diversity within an individual character. Sometimes that includes gender or racial diversity within a single character, but I also think of it in terms of a complexity of inner life.

  1. How do you measure your growth as a writer?

Hmm … I guess that goes back to what I just said about complexity. I think my writing when I first began tended toward more simplistic characters and situations. There was little or no moral ambiguity. Good guys were good guys and bad guys were bad. I was young enough to think I knew what the world needed and brash enough to think I had at least some of the answers. The older I get, the more it’s the questions that multiple, not the answers. I would measure my growth, then, by measuring my ability to feel empathy for and create empathy for a wider range of characters and my ability to create stories that leave readers or audience members in a place where they are encouraged to think more openly and broadly than they did before they read my book(s) or saw my play(s).

      9. Lightning round: Pick One

  • Rex or Zulu? Zulu
  • Pecan Pie or Lemon Icebox Pie? Pecan Pie
  • Okra or tomatoes? Tomatoes but I’m going to try to give okra a chance in 2018
  • SEC or ACC? Do I dare admit I’m not a football fan?
  • Dixieland or Swamp Rock? Swamp Rock
  • Muses High Heels or Krewe of Carrollton Shrimp Boots? Krewe of Carrollton Shrimp Boots, definitely!

10. How can readers discover more about you and your work?

It has been a true pleasure to have had this opportunity to interview Jan, and I thank her for sparing the time.

Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou again. New posts are made on Wednesdays. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feels free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

My new book, Out of the Penalty Box, a fiction romance is now available for at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered from iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.

Don’t have much time for reading or in a hurry? Check out my microfic, “Country Club Charades” in Fake For You at https://www.hottreepublishing.com/flash-fiction that also was released this week.

My steamy short story “Cargo” in Pirates: Boys Behaving Badly Anthology #3 is available for purchase. Find it at http://bit.ly/2C5GlLa.

Also, my paranormal romance short story “Under the Magnolia Tree” in Haunted Hearts (Holiday Heartwarmers 4th vol.) is available for purchase. It can be read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Find it on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2Ab706S.

Copies of all my books are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed in my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my novels or stories.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click on http://bit.ly/2zJjUdb and signup today.

If you enjoy reading this blog, please share it with your friends and family. There’s never too many people in the bayou. Spread the word and bayou fun.

Mardi Gras

It’s Mardi Gras!

Now, most persons of Cajun and Creole descent are already going to know this information. But for those interested, this is a brief intro into Mardi Gras.

When is Fat Tuesday this year? February 13, 2018

Why does the date for Mardi Gras change? Here’s the simple answer. Mardi Gras is centered around Easter and must occur the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday occurs forty days (not including Sundays) before Easter. The church has a specific method for determining when Easter occur, but this post won’t go that deep into detail. However, as far as Fat Tuesday is concerned because Easter is never on the same date each year, Ash Wednesday is not on the same date. Therefore, Fat Tuesday cannot be on the same date each year.

What is the difference between Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday? Mardi Gras translated means Fat Tuesday, and Fat Tuesday is the last day of carnival. It is the day before the beginning of Lent (Cuaresma). The term Mardi Gras is often used to refer to all the carnival season, but it specifically is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

What is Shrove Tuesday? It is another term for Fat Tuesday.

What is carnival? Carnival is the season of festivities that stem from the Roman Catholic tradition and celebration of Lent, a time of abstinence from things (particularly meat and alcohol), giving alms, prayer, reflection, and penance. Carnival begins on January 6, which is the Feast of Epiphany. The Feast of Epiphany is also called the Twelfth Night. Three Kings Day, or the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Carnival lasts from January 6 until midnight of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). It is a time of celebration, feasting, fun, and parties before the beginning of Lent when the abstaining begins.

What is king cake? King cake is the official dessert of Mardi Gras. (Actually, I made that up, but it might as well be true because king cake is only sold—unless someone is making in their personal kitchen—during the carnival season.) The name stems from the Biblical story of the three kings who brought gifts to Baby Jesus. It is a dessert made with brioche dough, cinnamon, and glazed with purple, gold, and green sugar an icing. Inside of the cake is a plastic baby. Whoever is served the baby in his/her slice of cake is blessed with good fortune but also must purchase the next king cake for everyone to share.

Here, I must give a shout out to two awesome bakeries Paul’s Pastry (paulspastry.com) in Picayune and Bittersweet Confections (http://www.bittersweetconfections.com) for your king cake needs. They are awesome.

What are flambeaux? This requires somewhat of a history lesson to understand. Back in 1857 with the first Mardi Gras parade, there was no electricity. That meant either no night parades because no one could see where they were going or that the parade route had to be lit. The problem was solved with flambeaux. Flambeaux carriers originally were slaves and free men of color who carried torches along the parade route. However, they didn’t just carry the torches. They twirled, danced, and performed tricks to the delight of spectators. Although torches are no longer needed for light, Flambeaux carriers are an integral part of carnival.

What are carnival balls? In short, big fancy parties. First, it should be mentioned that each year, more than one hundred carnival balls occur in New Orleans and have been occurring since the beginning of the celebration of carnival. (The first krewe ball was held in 1857 by the Mistick Krewe of Comus.) These carnivals begin on January 6 with theTwelfth Night Ball hosted by the Twelfth Night Revelers and continue throughout the season and are grand events to behold. Unfortunately, most of these balls are by invitation-only, and the general public is not privy to the full grandness of carnival. During the ball, there is a king cake cutting ceremony. According to tradition, the person who found the bean (the feve) hidden in the cake would host the next ball.

What are the colors of Mardi Gras, and do they have meaning? Before answering this question, note that there are some discrepancies and disputes about the origin of Mardi Gras colors and as to why there are three colors instead of one. It’s a complicated debate and one I won’t dare approach. However, most people today will agree that despite it came about, there are three colors associated with Mardi Gras. These colors are purple, gold, and green. Purple is a symbol of royalty and justice. Gold is a symbol of power and prestige. And green is a symbol of faith.

Here’s an interesting side note for trivia and history buffs (and a giggle for some). It is said that when Louisiana State University (LSU – GEAUX TIGERS) was deciding which colors to use to represent the university, the regional shops had stocked up on the colors purple, green, and gold in preparation to celebrate Mardi Gras. LSU brought most of the purple and gold (LPLG). Tulane University also was deciding on their school colors. But since LSU had beat them to the punch, all that was left was green. (You snooze; you lose.) And that is how it is said the LSU and Tulane got their school colors. Now, those who know me understand why I’m tickled and humored by this story.

Why do people yell, “Throw me something, mister”? Well, it’s because people on the floats throw items to people not on the floats. This can be both fun and hazardous to one’s health. (I’ll get to the hazardous part in a minute.) The practice of throwing things from floats into the crowd date back to the early 1870s and the Twelfth Night Revelers. (They really were something and continue to be.) If you’re wondering what’s being thrown, I’ll tell you—lots of stuff. Throws range from beads, handmade trinkets, coins, doubloons (aluminum and anodized in various colors), stuffed animals, toys, and gold coconuts. I’m kidding about the coconuts. Well, not really. They used to throw coconuts, but city ordinance no longer allows this practice—all because people got clonked in the head. (Told you it was a hazard.) Many of the doubloons are collectibles, especially from certain parades. Reaching down to pick one off the ground may cause you to lose fingers under someone’s spiked heel. All the more reason to ask the float riders to throw it to you.

And here’s a hint. The really good beads aren’t the one that is being thrown. If you can snag a float rider’s eye, ask that they throw you something that draped around his/her neck. That’s the really good stuff. Most will oblige but only if requested.

Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou again. New posts are made on Wednesdays. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feels free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

My new book, Out of the Penalty Box, a fiction romance is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered from iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.

Also, my paranormal romance short story “Under the Magnolia” in Haunted Hearts (Holiday Heartwarmers 4th vol.) is available for purchase. It can be read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Find it on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2Ab706S.

Copies of all my books are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed in my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my novels or stories.

Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click on http://bit.ly/2zJjUdb and signup today.

If you enjoy reading this blog, please share it with your friends and family. There’s never too many people in the bayou.