The well-known Acadian folklorist and historian Georges Arsenault will give
an illustrated talk on two ancient and popular Acadian winter celebrations.
The first is known as Chandeleur (Candlemas) and takes place on February 2.
The second, called Mi-Carême, is celebrated a few weeks later in the middle
Georges Arsenault has researched the origins of these joyful traditions and
how they were observed in Acadian communities in Eastern Canada. Published
by Acorn Press and translated by Sally Ross, the English titles of his two
books on these winter festivities are: Acadian Traditions on Candlemas Day:
Candles, Pancakes, and House Visits and Acadian Mi-Carême: Masks and
Candlemas Day was at one time an important religious and social festivity.
Pancakes were the symbolic food of choice. In many Acadian villages, young
men went from door-to-door collecting food either for a communal feast or to
give to the poor. To celebrate Mid-Lent, people visited each other’s homes
dressed up in masks and costumes, as they still do in the Chéticamp region
of Cape Breton. In some villages, a scary woman called the Mi-Carême
distributed candies to good little children. In his presentation, Arsenault
will trace the evolution of these traditions, highlight modern-day
celebrations, and look at the role they still play in Acadian culture.