Here in New Orleans, life moves to the rhythms of the Catholic liturgical calendar. It’s an old city, with European sensibilities merged with African, Creole, Haitian, all that jazz, with a bit of Anglo-American-Irish mixed in–after all, we did become a part of the United States a while back! Our celebrations follow a familiar pattern-Christmas, then Carnival Season, which begins on 12th Night, the Feast of the Epiphany in many Latin countries, Spain, and Italy, and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter. (That’s called Mardi Gras; you’ve heard of it).
Many New Orleanians attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, but Lent is hardly a sacrifice here. Once the ashes are washed off, and the Lenten vows to “give up” something taken, we can move on to enjoy spring.
Typically, beautiful weather in March and April draws us out of doors, to-Festivals! Right now, we’re anticipating the new season–great food, often seafood; interesting music; and just being together to celebrate various ethnic traditions such as St. Joseph’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. We love to get out our lawn chairs and pack up our coolers in anticipation of seeing our friends at the festival. Apart from the bigger events like the French Quarter Festival and, of course, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell, there are many other gems.
For example, next week’s Louisiana Oyster Jubilee, in the 300th block of Bourbon Street, is a relatively new festival celebrating a Louisiana delight. Live music, food and the French Quarter come together. You can watch local chefs create delicious concoctions, not to mention build the Longest Oyster Po-Boy.
The French Market itself is the home this year of another new food-oriented festival, the New Orleans Road Food Festival. It’s March 24th and 25th, and is described as “a street food festival that welcomes culinary folk artists to bring the experience of local American eateries to the Big Easy!” 40,000 happy eaters converged in the Quarter for this event last year. Now, at the French Market, it’s going to be even better.
Music lovers and New Orleans cultural history fans will enjoy the fifth annual Congo Square New World Rhythm Festival, to be held at the reopened historic Armstrong Park, where slaves congregated in Congo Square to dance and play their music. Presented by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, it’s held on March 24 and 25th this year. It will include a symposium about the history of New Orleans culture, as well as joyous music from the African Diaspora. There’ll be an arts market as well.
We could go on and on about all the different ways to enjoy life right now, and all the different festivals, but you get the idea. The best season in south Louisiana is-Festival Season! It doesn’t really matter which one you choose. We love them all.