Named after King Louis XIV by the French explorer, René Robert Cavelier de La Salle, Louisiana is a city with a huge cultural diversity, which is reflected in its music, food, religious syncretism and the architecture of its buildings.
Home of jazz:
Did you know that jazz was created in Louisiana? It was indeed and this genre of music that is so representative of the United States culture originated there, specifically in New Orleans. Born at the beginning of the 19th century, it was related to the lives of the descendants of African slaves and was originally interpreted in the form of work songs.
In the times of slavery in the south of the United States, playing drums was forbidden. However, this ban was not imposed in New Orleans where the slaves were permitted to use musical instruments in their meetings.
In its early stages, this genre of music was only interpreted by black people and they could only play their music in places where they were allowed access.
Over the years, jazz has evolved. There are significant difference between early and modern jazz, although the base is still the same: improvisation and a strong rhythm.
The practice of Voodoo:
Many visitors to Louisiana are very interested in the evolution of religion there, since there has been strong syncretism between Catholicism and the African religions, especially Voodoo.
Voodoo was brought to North America by the slaves from Africa living there during the colonial period and later by Haitian immigrants who settled in the city. Their beliefs, rooted in their ancestors’ religion, the knowledge of the benefits of plants, the creation of poisons using plants and the use of charms in rituals to protect themselves or to harm others, became key elements in the practice of this religion.
During many years a loyal defender of this religion lived in New Orleans. Her name was Marie Laveau, also known as the “Voodoo Queen”. The story goes that she was an eminent and powerful representative of this religion and is remembered as a benefactor to the less fortunate. Legend has it that her Voodoo was so effective, that people of all classes came to see her. Nowadays, her crypt is visited by many of her followers and many players call her name when throwing dice in a game, to give them luck.
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Although for any years this religion has been clandestine, at the beginning of the 21st century, it has become one of this city’s most popular tourist attractions. Today, the sale of objects such as charms, gris-gris, candles and powders has become very popular, to both those who practice Voodoo and tourists.
The San Fermín Festival in Louisiana:
Yes, you read correctly. The San Fermín Festival in Louisiana, to be more specific, in New Orleans. Although the festival here is quite strange because, instead of bulls running through the streets, as happens in the famous Spanish festival, there are girls on scooters, using helmets with horns and plastic bats full of foam who chase the participants.
This event began with members of the local skating team, but nowadays, skaters come from all around the world to celebrate this festival in New Orleans.
It is one of the city’s most popular summer festivals and has taken place every July for the last thirteen years, lasting between two and three days.
Mind you, if you want to take part in this exciting activity, you need to register well in advance to get your entrance tickets. There is also a dress code, which requires you to wear a white shirt and shorts, with a red sash or scarf tied around your waist or neck.
Frog Capital of the World:
Although it seems incredible that such a place exists, it is in Rayne, Louisiana. This city was christened as the “Frog Capital of the World”, thanks to the fact that at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a huge boom in the sale of frogs’ legs for gastronomic purposes and the city became the distributor of this product to many restaurants all over the country.
Walking around the streets of this city you can see more than 30 statues dedicated to frogs, wearing different clothes and in different positions. The most famous one is “Monsieur Jacques”.
Moreover, every year the “Frog Festival “ takes place, when people can visit with their frogs or rent one there to participate in the various competitions that take place. The most popular competitions include frog jumping, frog racing and fancy dress, where it’s the frogs that are in fancy dress, of course!
As you can see, Louisiana has the most improbable activities for its citizens and visitors, and this is exactly what gives this city a charm that you cannot find elsewhere.
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