Culture of Louisiana
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 non-Native American religion in Louisiana was Roman Catholicism, 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. Louisiana remains a cultural pot with many different religions More recent immigrants have brought Buddhism and Islam into Louisiana . Also, Voodoo is often practiced in south Louisiana , 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 planet , an ambassador for Louisiana culture.
The blues is also a link to the past . 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 bearable . 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-do . 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 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 quartets .
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 Louisiana .
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 Louisiana . They are also home to the very popular metal group, Pantera, who have made songs such as Walk and Cemetery Gates.
Seasonings such as Cayenne pepper, Tony Chachere's, Tabasco sauce and Zatarain's are prevalent in the cuisine of Louisiana. While the state is predominantly known for both its Cajun cuisine, Creole cuisine, and Native American cuisine.
Creole cuisine is influenced by traditional French cooking with Spanish, African, and Indian influences. Cajun cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the United States. Cajun cuisine has a reputation of being incredibly spicy and dependent on frying. People in Southern Louisiana say that others eat to live, while they live to eat.
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. Natchitoches is famous for its meat pie. For many years, crawfish 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 crawfish boils. Today, boiled crawfish is served throughout the state.
Other foods popular in Louisiana include Gumbo, Étouffée, Jambalaya, Muffuletta, Po'boy, and Red Beans and Rice. Seafood is especially popular in Louisiana either as an ingredient or as a main dish such as Shrimp, Crawfish, Crabs, Oysters and Catfish. Swamp denizens such as Gator or Alligator, Frog Legs, and Turtle soup is popular around the bayous of south Louisiana.
Festivals and Carnivals
Louisiana is known for many festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Bayou Country Superfest, Essence Music Festival, Festival International, Voodoo Experience and its most famous, Mardi Gras. Other popular festivals throughout the state include the Alligator Festival, Andouille Festival in LaPlace, Bridge City Gumbo Festival, Etoufee Festival in Arnaudville, French Quarter Festival, Gretna Heritage Festival, International Rice Festival, Jambalaya Festival in Gonzales, Louisiana Cajun Food Festival in Kaplan, Louisiana Catfish Festival, Louisiana Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana Pecan Festival in Colfax, Louisiana Seafood Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival in Morgan City, Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival in New Iberia, Louisiana Watermelon Festival in Farmerville, Mudbug Maddness in Shreveport, Natchitoches Christmas Festival, Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival, New Orleans Oyster Festival, New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival, Orange Festival in Buras, Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, Rayne Frog Festival, Red River Revel, Satchmo SummerFest, Southern Decadence, State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport, Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and Yambilee Festival. Annual crawfish boils and crawfish cook-offs are also popular.
Sports are very popular in Louisiana. The state is often called "Sportsman's Paradise" locally. American football is the most popular sport throughout the state. Other popular athletic sports include basketball and baseball. Also, recreational sports such as hunting and fishing are also popular. Since 1958, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame has honored the elite figures in state sports history. The state has many sports teams for high school, college and professional athletes.
Major Professional sports
- Grambling State Tigers - Grambling
- Louisiana–Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns - Lafayette
- Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks - Monroe
- Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Lady Techsters - Ruston
- LSU Tigers - Baton Rouge
- McNeese State Cowboys and Cowgirls - Lake Charles
- New Orleans Privateers - New Orleans
- Nicholls State Colonels - Thibodaux
- Northwestern State Demons - Natchitoches
- Southeastern Louisiana Lions - Hammond
- Southern Jaguars - Baton Rouge
- Tulane Green Wave - New Orleans
High School sports
Stadiums and arenas
- Mercedes-Benz Superdome
- Ace W. Mumford Stadium
- Alario Center
- Baton Rouge River Center Arena
- BREC Memorial Stadium
- Burton Coliseum
- Cajun Field
- CenturyLink Center
- Cowboy Stadium
- Eddie Robinson Stadium
- F.G. Clark Center
- Fant–Ewing Coliseum
- Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center
- Harang Jr. Municipal Auditorium
- Harry Turpin Stadium
- Hirsch Memorial Coliseum
- Houma Terrebonne Civic Center
- Ike Hamilton Expo Center
- Independence Stadium
- Joe Aillet Stadium
- Lakefront Arena
- Lamar Dixon Expo Center
- Malone Stadium
- Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium
- Monroe Civic Center
- Pete Maravich Assembly Center
- Pontchartrain Center
- Prather Coliseum
- Rapides Parish Coliseum
- Smoothie King Center
- Stopher Gym
- Strawberry Stadium
- Sudduth Coliseum
- Tad Gormley Stadium
- Thomas Assembly Center
- Tiger Stadium
- University Center
- Yulman Stadium
- Zephyr Field
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