Culture of Louisiana
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According to the National Geographic, a group's culture defines its way of life and its own view of itself and other groups. The elements of a culture include religion, music, food, clothing, language, architecture, art, literature, games, and sports. All of these elements combine to create the culture of Louisiana. Often, these elements are the basis for one of the many festivals in the state.
The first religion in Louisiana was Roman Catholicism,1 as a result of the predominantly Catholic French and Spanish control of colonial Louisiana. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Protestantism was introduced to the territory. Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians were later joined by other Protestant sects such as Lutherans, who were often German immigrants. Members of the Jewish faith have come to Louisiana at various times.clarification needed More recent immigrants have brought Buddhism and Islam into Louisianaclarification needed. Also, Louisiana Voodoo is a common practice in Louisianacitation needed, especially in New Orleans.
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. Jazz is a kind of music with strong rhythms and much syncopation, often improvised. Brass bands and piano players helped create this new sound. Jazz has spread across the planetclarification needed, an ambassador for Louisiana culturecitation needed.
The blues is also a link to the pastclarification needed. This music style is based on black folk music, especially on the chants of the black workers on the plantations. Those rhythms were memories of their African culture and made the slaves' lives and the work more bearablecitation needed. The instruments most associated with blues music are the guitar and the harmonica. Later, when horns were added and the tempo changed, the new style was known as rhythm and blues.
The early Cajuns often held dance parties at their rural homes. Entire families came, and the young children were put on blanket pallets in the bedroom. They were told to go to sleep, which in French is fais-do-docitation needed. This became the name of these dance parties, and today the term fais-do-do refers to a Cajun dance.
Zydeco is the special type of music of French-speaking African Americans of South Louisiana. It is much like Cajun music; the song is sung in French and played on an accordion. An added instrument, the rub-board is used for rhythm.
Country music is part of the heritage of North Louisiana. In the days before television, when people gathered for entertainment, musicians brought their instruments. Their string bands usually usually included a guitar, a fiddle, and a mandolin. This traditional southern country music developed into bluegrass music and then into modern country music. This heritage continues with a state fiddling championship held each year at Marthaville in Natchitoches Parish.
Many early rock-and-roll musicians started out singing gospel music. Gospel is church music that blends elements of folk music, spirituals, hymns, and popular music. You can hear gospel music in churches throughout Louisiana every Sunday morning. Songs sung in African-American churches preserve the old spirituals and add contemporary music. Rural churches in North Louisiana feature gospel quartetscitation needed.
More formal classical music also contributes to the musical sound of Louisiana. Orchestras have created musical culture since colonial days. Young musicians today continue this tradition as they audition for the Louisiana Youth Orchestra in Baton Rouge.
Community brass bands were popular at the turn of the century. Today high school bands perform concerts and provide the marching bands for local parades. Music continues to add a tempo to life everywhere in Louisianacitation needed.
Another variety of music that is heard commonly between the Gonzales, Baton Rouge and Hammond areas is called Swamp Pop. The songs are easily recognized by the saxophones, guitars and drums. The songs tend to focus on life in Louisianacitation needed.
Seasonings such as Cayenne pepper, Tony Chachere's, Zatarain's are prevalent in the cuisine of Louisiana.citation needed While the state is predominantly known for its Cajun cuisine, Native American cuisine preceded their contributions.Creole cuisine is influenced by traditional French cooking with Spanish, African, and Indian influences.2
Although the food most identified with the state is the Cajun and Creole food of South Louisiana, North Louisiana also has its own unique cuisine. Traditionally, southern style soul food such as smothered pork chops, chicken and dumplings, candied yams, hot water cornbread, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and black-eyed peas are commonly eaten in North Louisiana. For many years, crayfish were not eaten outside of Cajun country. People north of Alexandria were more likely to eat fried chicken or barbecue. Fish fries featuring catfish took the place of crayfish boils. Today, boiled crayfish is served throughout the state.
Other foods popular in Louisiana include Gumbo, Etouffee, Jambalaya, Mufellettas, Po boys, and Red Beans and Rice (traditionally eaten on Monday). Seafood is especially popular in Louisiana either as an ingredient or as a main dish such as Shrimp, Crayfish, Crabs, Oysters and Catfish. Swamp denizens such as Gator or Alligator, Frog Legs, and Turtle soup is popular around the bayous of south Louisiana.
Louisiana is known for many festivalscitation needed such as Jazz Fest, Essence Fest, and its most famous, Mardi Gras. Other popular festivals throughout the state include the Louisiana Crawfish festival, Breaux Bridge Crawfish festival, the Tickfaw Italian Festival, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, Louisiana Seafood festival, Franklin Parish Catfish festival, Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, Annual Louisiana Watermelon Festival in Farmerville, Mudbug Madness in Shreveport, Bridge City Gumbo Festival, International Rice Festival, Louisiana Cajun Food Festival, Louisiana Yambilee Festival, Jambalaya festival, shrimp festival, annual crawfish boils, and crawfish cook offs. Jambalaya festival in Gonzales.citation needed
Sports are very popular in Louisiana.citation needed The northern part of the state is often called "Sportsman's Paradise" locally.citation needed American football is probably the most popular sport throughout the state.citation needed Other popular athletic sports include basketball and baseball.citation needed Also, recreational sports such as hunting and fishing are also popular, especially in North Louisiana.citation needed Louisiana has possibly the biggest in state college rivalry,citation needed the Bayou Classic between Southern University and its North Louisiana counterpart, Grambling State University, which is played annually in New Orleans. Louisiana also has a sports Hall of Fame. Since 1958, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame has honored the elite figures in state sports history. Only 248 men and women have been chosen for induction into the Hall of Fame.
The state has many sports teams for high school, college and professional athletes.3
- Southeastern Louisiana University* Lions - Hammond, Louisiana
- Louisiana Tech University* Bulldogs - Ruston
- University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks - Monroe
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns - Lafayette
- Louisiana State Tigers - Baton Rouge
- Northwestern State Demons - Natchitoches
- Tulane Green Wave - New Orleans
- Southern University Jaguars - Baton Rouge
- Grambling State University Tigers - Grambling
- Nicholls State University Colonels - Thibodaux, Louisiana
- Louisiana High School Athletic Association4
- Baton Rouge Kingfish (ECHL) - Baton Rouge, Louisiana Team is now defunct.
- Lake Charles Ice Pirates (WPHL) - Lake Charles
- Louisiana Ice Gators (ECHL) - Lafayette
- Monroe Moccasins (WPHL) - Monroe, Louisiana
- New Orleans Zephyrs (PCBL) - New Orleans, Louisiana
- Shreveport Mudbugs (WPHL) - Shreveport, Louisiana
Louisiana Superdome - New Orleans