What being Cajun means to me: Joie de Vivre

As I outlined in last Monday’s post, I’ve started to ponder what being Cajun means to me – the traits typically found people who identify with the Cajun culture. Last week, I blogged about resourcefulness. This week, I’m going to blog about how Cajuns like to have fun.

Cajuns are usually described as having “Joie de Vivre” – this wikipedia article defines it as a phrase used “to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit”  Anyone who has visited South Louisiana and experienced the Cajun culture first hand has seen this Joie de Vivre – it’s celebrated in everyday life – from the sense of humor we find in calling each other silly Cajun french names to our customs: Paqueing eggs at Easter, The Courir de Mardi Gras and hosting festivals about everything from rice, catfish, boudin, frogs and crawfish.

Joie de Vivre - me at my sister's house having some fun with the old cat door (and scaring the crap out of her)

Joie de Vivre – me at my sister’s house having some fun with the old cat door (and scaring the crap out of her)

The way I saw this Joie de Vivre expressed in my family was through our fun and exciting holidays together and exciting home life. Growing up in our family, we always had a jukebox that played music non stop from Friday evening throughout the weekend. Because of the varied jukebox selection, I know the lyrics and melodies to many obscure songs from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Have you ever heard of the song “Sneaky Snake” by Tom T Hall? That was one of our favorites as was “Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin. As you can see, our house was a lively place to be almost all of the time.   

My father came by his sense of fun and humor honestly. His mother, who we called “TaLa” loved to entertain and host holiday dinners at her home. Her favorite color was purple – so what color did she paint her house? Purple, of course!

I recently found this photo of her that embodied her personality – she’s playing the triangle while a couple of her guests are dancing in her living room.

TaLa playing triangle while guests dance in her living room

TaLa playing triangle while guests dance in her living room

Here’s another photo of her riding a child’s toy on her patio.

TaLa riding a child's toy on her patio

TaLa riding a child’s toy on her patio

And no holiday in Louisiana is complete without a run to the fireworks stand. My father LOVED fireworks and he always went overboard at the fireworks stand. He’d come home and put on a show for all of the family, friends and neighbors. He had just as much fun as the kids.

I love to say that even though I’m growing older, I hope I never grow up. I always want to maintain a healthy sense of humor and enjoy life. Life is for living and we should do our best to live it to the fullest. I can say that my father and my grandmother embraced that spirit and I hope I can continue that legacy and remain true to my Cajun roots.

Post a fun family story or tradition below from your family, I’d love to hear your stories, too!

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4 thoughts on “What being Cajun means to me: Joie de Vivre

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