The Friends of Grand-Pré are hosting folklorist and historian Georges Arsenault for an illustrated talk on two popular Acadian winter celebrations on Feb. 22. The first is known as Chandeleur (Candlemas) and took place on Feb. 2. The second, called Mi-Carême, is celebrated a few weeks later, in the middle of Lent.
Arsenault will give his talk in English. It will take place on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Kentville.
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 Merrymaking.
He says that 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