From Tony Chachere to Beyonce, Creole people have made a long-lasting impression on the global landscape. October is known as Creole Heritage Month, a time to acknowledge, educate, and celebrate all things Creole. This holiday was created in the 1970's to uplift Creole culture and language across multiple counties, including Louisiana Creole people.
What is Creole?
Creole is a term used to describe a wide range of people, languages, and cultures. In many regions of the world, Louisiana Creoles are generally known as people of color with a mixed ethnicity from a French, Spanish, Black, and or Native American heritage. Historically, many Black people brought to the area came from the West Indies and Haiti, which is why the occasion is also celebrated there.
Creole is also a spoken language in both Louisiana and the Caribbean. Creole as a language is taken from Pidgin French and mixed with the native tongue, which can vary from country to country. These elements, combined with distinct food and music, have created what we know as Creole culture.
In Louisiana, some of the most distinguishable elements of Creole culture come from music and food. Known for having a large presence in South Louisiana, Creole culture has been blended into most southern Louisianian's daily life. Although some elements of Cajun and Creole culture overlap due to both having a traditional French heritage, there are some differences between the two.
Creole music has been around since the 1800s and is known as a style of folk music. The sound is often attributed to Amede Ardoin. The songs were sung in Louisiana Creole and featured accordion as the prominent instrument. In many early recordings, the songs were known as Negro Spirituals or Slave Songs.
Throughout the centuries, the music has evolved and branched out into many other popular styles, most notably Zydeco. When it's time for a night of fun and dancing, many people in Acadiana and those from all around cherish dancing to Zydeco music. This style originated and was popularized by Creoles in Louisiana. Swamp Pop is also known as another Creole brainchild.
There is much debate about the difference between Creole and Cajun food. Many sources distinguish the two as "city" versus "country" food. Creole cuisine is known for having a more refined palette with ingredients like oysters, shrimp, and crab. It is also a common idea that tomatoes and tomato-based sauces have a large presence in Creole food. Another difference is the preparation of roux. Traditionally, Cajun roux is made with oil, while Creole is made with butter. Some popular Creole dishes include Shrimp Creole, Oysters en brochette, Crawfish Etouffee, and Redfish Courtbouillon.
As we acknowledge the history and beautiful culture of the Creole people, October is also a time to celebrate. Visit your favorite Creole restaurant, go on a trail ride, learn to dance Zydeco, or even master a new recipe. Here are some events happening and places to visit:
- Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park | 300 Fisher Rd in Lafayette
- Creole Heritage Folklife Center | 1113 West Vine St in Opelousas
- Zydeco Capital Jam (Second Saturday of the Month) | 978 Kennerson Rd Opelousas, LA
- Rusty Metoyer & The Zydeco Krush (October 14) | Grouse Room
- Zydeco Beer Garden Brunch (Sundays) | 1106 Bushville Hwy. Arnaudville