Mardi Gras!

written by Jasmine Grace – High school Intern

Every year, millions flock to New Orleans in late winter to partake in the vibrant celebration of Mardi Gras. What many people don’t know is that Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to ancient Rome and is celebrated worldwide. This year, however, things were a bit different. New Orleans hosted no parades, but that didn’t mean the festivities were cancelled. Many decorated their houses as parade floats to celebrate in a safer way. The new twist on this ancient holiday was called ‘Yardi Gras.’

Decorated Houses

The origins of Mardi Gras lie in the ancient city of Rome. Celebrations in late winter were already a holiday, so when Christianity spread to the Empire, leaders decided to keep those festivals in place and incorporate the old into the new. This took the form of a huge celebration before Lent. As Roman influences and Christianity spread through Europe, they brought these festivals with them. They became known as Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. 

Mardi Gras 2019

The beginnings of Mardi Gras as we know it in New Orleans is debated, but most can agree that the first celebration was in either present-day Louisiana or Alabama. French colonists celebrated their Mardi Gras with street parties, masquerade balls, and extravagant dinners. These festivities were banned during the Spanish rule of New Orleans, but made a comeback when Louisiana became a U.S. territory in 1812. 

There are a variety of traditions associated with Mardi Gras in New Orleans. These include throwing beads, wearing costume masks, eating King Cake, and hosting parades with incredibly decorated floats. Krewes are also a strong part of the celebrations. Krewes are social organizations that host a ball or put a float in a parade for Mardi Gras. Traditionally, these groups were strictly for men. But in 1941, the Krewe of Venus became the first women’s krewe to put on a parade. They met hostile crowds at first, some of whom even threw rotten vegetables at them. But these ladies were back at the next parade, and female krewes soon became a normal part of Mardi Gras. Soon more all-women krewes began to form. Then a number of krewes formed that were open to everyone. These krewes were instantly popular, and still are today.

Who wants King Cake Y’all?

Many places around the world, particularly those with large Roman Catholic populations, celebrate this holiday, though each place calls it by a different name and has its own unique traditions. In Brazil, Carnival blends African, native, and European cultures. The German celebration, called Karneval, Fastnacht, or Fasching, features parades and costume balls. It also includes a tradition in which women cut off men’s ties. Quebec City hosts the Winter Carnaval, famous for its ice sculptures. Venice is widely known for its masquerade balls and they call this holiday Carnivale. And in Denmark, children dress up in costumes and collect candy, similar to trick-or-treating on Halloween. 

Mardi Gras goes by many names, and is celebrated in many ways. And while 2021 has been different from our normal in many ways, Mardi Gras prevails.

Let the Good Times Roll!

Le Carnaval de Québec

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern

Winter in Québec is incomplete without the Carnaval, which typically runs from late January to early February over a span of 17 days. Over the course of Carnaval, guests can experience the historic city of Québec through the lens of celebration. Carnaval is the largest winter festival in the world, attracting over a million tourists and citizens annually. For children in Québec, Carnaval is comparable to Christmas. Many of the symbols of Carnaval are among the most important to Québecois children, specifically Bonhomme Carnaval. This festival is a crucial part of Canada’s economic prosperity as well, having been re-developed in the 1950s to specifically facilitate the economy following The Great Depression. Québec is one of the few walled cities left on the continent, and considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over the years, Carnaval has adapted to attract more people and immerse attendants in a full Canadian experience, but its French roots are always a central focus. 

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Cajun Food, Culture, and History!

Written by Jasmine Grace -high school Intern

The Acadian people have a long history going all the way back to when they first arrived in North America. The vast majority of these people were immigrants from France. They settled in Acadia, which is made of modern-day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward’s Island, and parts of the American Northeast.

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The Foreign Music Phenomenon

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence – high school Intern

Foreign music. Nowadays it is by no means a foreign concept; we hear international hits on nearly every radio station. Part of this rise can be partially attributed to the up rise in streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Across the globe, music from other nations is a sensation that pleases the ears of many people. But why did it take so long for this “Foreign Music Phenomenon” to grace the ears of US listeners? The first real international “hit” that I can recall listening to on mainstream radio and music stations was “Gangnam Style” by Psy. I can remember, with a concerning amount of detail, dancing around my primary school gym whipping my hands around to some South Korean song. “Gangnam Style” topped charts in 2013, becoming one of the most heard international songs in the US since the 1970s. The last time a French song performed that well was “Dominique” by Jeanine Deckers in 1963.

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The World of French – Senegal

Written by Jasmine Grace – high school Intern

The West African nation of Senegal  has a rich history going back to ancient times. Prehistoric tools, copper and iron artifacts, and shards of pottery have been found in the Senegal River Valley. This area saw the rise and fall of not one, but two West African Kingdoms: the Mali Empire and the Songhai Empire. The Songhai Empire, the last of all West African Kingdoms, lasted all the way to the year 1591 AD.

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The World of French – Lebanon

By Chaimae Naanai,
FAC Intern & Volunteer.

Welcome to Western Asia!  Here, we will discover our next country in the World of French:  Lebanon.  The capital of Lebanon, Beirut, is known as the “Paris of the Middle East”. The city is a fusion of the West and East (Arab and European). Although the main language is Arabic, 20% of Lebanese speak French in their daily lives 65% of whom speak it fluently. Although Lebanon has been occupied by both France and Great Britain, French influence has had the biggest impact on the culture. Read the rest of this entry »

The World of French – Cameroon

By Chaimae Naanai,
FAC Intern & Volunteer.

The country of Cameroon is known as “Africa in Miniature” because of its cultural and geographical diversity. It has white beaches, tropical rain forests, grasslands, and deserts all in one country! Cameroon has 2 regions, an English-speaking one and a French-speaking one. I will be focusing on the French side for this blog. The French region is in the East and its legal and educational systems are driven by those found in Europe, especially in France. In this blog, we will explore the culture of Cameroon with an emphasis on the food.

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The World of French – Morocco

By Chaimae Naanai,
FAC Intern & Volunteer.

When we think of French culture, we usually think about France, Canada, and even Belgium. But what would the unconventional countries that not only speak French but also celebrate the culture? In this blog post, I will be exploring Morocco. Morocco is a predominantly Arabic country with deep French and Spanish roots. They have been able to preserve their French influence but also maintain their historical Arabic background. 

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2020 NH PoutineFest: Road Show Edition

Written by Chaimae Naanai, FAC Intern

Over the last 5 years, we have seen the love for Poutine explode. We were very excited about returning to Anheuser Busch to celebrate the 5th NH PoutineFest with you. However, the pandemic hit. Life as we know it changed over night and all events and businesses around the State were impacted.  BUT, you can’t keep a Poutiniac down!

NH PoutineFest 2017

The NH PoutineFest team quickly gathered to re-imagine NH PoutineFest 2020 and take our Fest on the road. So, NH PoutineFest Road Show Edition was born!

Taking the show on the road allows us to not only celebrate one of Quebec’s finest imports but to also support local restaurants. The pandemic has hit our poutine-offering restaurants hard and we felt this might be a great way to support them just as they have supported NH PoutineFest and the Franco-American Centre over the years.

How does the Road Show work you ask?

From July 11th to August 31st, go to a participating restaurant with your “Passeport à la saveur” to receive 25% off your Poutine. While you’re there, take a look at the menu. You might find something else to tempt your taste buds. Maybe you’ll even discover a new favorite eatery while visiting our beautiful area! By buying a passeport à la saveur, you are not only supporting the small businesses, but also the Franco-American Centre. Doing so will allow for more events like this to happen every year. 

The participating restaurants are:

1750 Taphouse, Bedford NH                           

Chez Vachon, Manchester, NH

Flight Center, Nashua, NH

Gravy, Sommersworth, NH

Hollis House of Pizza, Hollis, NH

HotMess Poutine, Rochester, NH

Let’s Get Loaded, Newport, NH

NE Tap House Grille, Hooksett, NH

Nosh Kitchen Bar, Portland, ME

Pinky D’s Poutine Factory, Auburn, ME

Stark Brewing Company, Manchester, NH

The Foundry Restaurant, Manchester, NH

The Village Eatery, Merrimack, NH

Vulgar Display of Poutine, Littleton, NH

While you are enjoying your poutine, make sure to take pictures and videos of yourself in front of the restaurant and post them on the NH PoutineFest Facebook page. After the close of the Road Show, we will gather pictures and videos into a montage we will share on our website!

NH PoutineFest 2019

To order your flavor passport go to Eventbrite they will be available throughout the event.

SUPPORT. SHARE. ENJOY.

#livefreeandeatpoutine

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Member Spotlight : Chantalle Forgues

By Melody Keilig – Writer

Many Franco-Americans in New England don’t have a strong connection to their family’s heritage. Often, they cannot speak French and do not have an understanding of their history. But what about those Americans of French-Canadian heritage who were raised in border towns neighboring Québec; are they more likely to speak French as a first language and know their history by heart? 

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3,2,1….Immerse! A Great Way to Boost Your Language Skills 
and Travel Abroad! 

 

 

 

 

submitted by Meghan Herrick – FAC Intern, Spring 2020

 

As a passionate language learner, I have always believed the most effective form of language acquisition is through immersion. Although it may seem daunting at first many people come out of language immersion feeling confident in their language abilities. I am lucky to have had not only one but two French immersion experiences and in two very different places. In addition, I also spent two semesters in Costa Rica and was an exchange student in Germany for some time in high school so I have had a lot of experience with study abroad and language immersion. 

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2020 with the FAC! 

 

Melody Keilig – Writer

 

 

 

 

 

The first month of 2020 has come and gone, but the FAC has upcoming events for everyone to enjoy very soon in its 30th year of celebrating French language, heritage, and culture! 

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Have You Celebrated Le Réveillon or La Fête des Rois Yet?

Melody Keilig – Writer

 

Have You Celebrated Le Réveillon or La Fête des Rois Yet?

If not, it’s never too late for a new Christmas tradition!

In general, celebrating Christmas Day in the U.S. usually involves preparing your gifts for the morning. Everyone gathers around the tree to exchange and open their gifts and then a bountiful lunch or dinner usually follows.

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Who is The French-Canadian Legacy Podcast

by Melody Keilig

 

 

 

At one time in New England, French-Canadians were the largest immigrant group crossing the northern border from Quebec to find work in the mills. During this time, they faced many challenges in their new homeland from discrimination to low wages, but their dedication to living a better life helped them overcome and adapt to American life without completely losing their culture. 

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Member Spotlight: Emily Murphy

Interviewed by Keely Messino          Written by Melody Keilig

Emily Murphy

A cultural shift is taking place in New England amongst its former largest immigrant group: the French-Canadians. Once known as an isolated ethnic group, the descendants of French-Canadian immigrants are making a comeback by generating changes within their community to rekindle the culture while also remaining integrated into American society.

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