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Mardi Gras Names: Baby names from the bayou

mardi gras names

To celebrate New Orleans’s triumphant Super Bowl victory, as well as today’s Shrove Tuesday launch of  Mardi Gras, here is the fascinating blog created for us last year by guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn of “You Can’t Call It It.”  Elisabeth is a writer, artist, and mother who lives in Brooklyn, New York.

An inspiration for everything from vampires to voodoo, from zydeco to the Krewe of Zulu, Louisiana has been a colorful melting pot of divergent cultures for centuries.  Cajuns from Canada, Creoles and others of HaitianAfrican, Italian, Spanish, or Native American descent, all come together to form a mélange of backgrounds, and in point of fact, names.  Most share a history of French language and Catholicism, even if it’s not by blood. While these may not be the choices in use today in the Bayou, they have been culled from historical documents, maps, and folklore from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.  The majority are either French proper, or my favorite, Frenchified.  Still more trace their roots to Classical GrecoRoman civilization, deep Southern culture, or are somewhere farther afield and include a curious preponderance of the letter Z.

So come on!  Allez-y! Chew on these names (and some maque choux), prepare to bare all for those beads, and laissez les bon temps roulez!

LADIES

Acadia– The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian

Adelaide

Alexandrine

Alma

Alzophine

Ambrosine

AmelineEmeline

Arzilla

Avoyelles– This Cajun Parish might be picked up as a first name, piggybacking on the current Ava and Ellie love

Beatrice

Belle

Berangere

Bernadette– A much beloved Catholic saint, and one of the prettiest songs in the native New Orleans Neville Brothers repertoire

Cezelia

Clotille

Delphine– While Delphine is a lovely and lilting name, Delphine La Laurie was a famous socialite and sadist who tortured her slaves

Dixie– Used to refer to the South at large, this may have originated in New Orleans on the ten dollar bill, upon which a local bank printed “dix”, the French for ten.

Dolucila

Elva

Ernestine

Eugenie– Napoleon’s first love

EulaEulalie

Evangeline– An epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recalling the 1755 deportation of Acadian Canadians to the newly Spanish Louisiana

Ezora

Geraldine

Gertrude

Ghislaine

Heloise

Ida

Josephine– Napoleon’s (second) love

Leonie

Lougenia

Magnolia– The state flower of Louisiana

Mahalia– Mahalia Jackson is a gospel and blues singer from the area, with a name worth borrowing

Marie– Marie Laveau was a reknowned Voodoo Queen who was visited by slaves and owners alike

Maude

Maxzille

Melba

Mellette

MinervaMinnie

Oatha

Odilia

OlaOlla Mae, Olima

Onezie, Onezime

Ophelia

Philomine, Philonese

Rosella

Sabine– The Sabine River runs through Louisiana

Sophronia

Tammany- Parish north of New Orleans

Ysabeau

Zeline

Zenobia (also spotted as Senobia)

Zerilda

GENTS

Alphonse

Amedee

Amos– Amos Moses is a song by Jerry Reed about a fictional one armed alligator-hunting Cajun man

Armand

AugusteAugustin

Bartheleme

BeauBeauregard– Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was the most famous Civil War soldier from New Orleans and fought in the Battle of Shiloh;  his ghost is said to roam the streets of New Orleans whispering “Shiloh“, which means “place of peace”

Bernard– Parish east of New Orleans

Bertrand

Buford

Charles– Geographically, Charles is everywhere, from a street in NOLA to the western city of Lake Charles to StCharlesParish in the east

Cleophas

Clovis

Cornelius

Cyriaque

Dagobert– Pere Dagobert was a well-respected 18th century priest who is still said to be heard singing “Kyrie” while keeping a watchful eye over the city of New Orleans.

Dempsey

Eloi

Gaston

Gilbert

Gustave –2008’s Hurricane Gustav (yes, that’s the way the storm was spelled) may have dampened enthusiasm for this name.

Hippolyte

Homer

Jacques

JeanBaptiste– JeanBaptiste Le Moyne de Bienville foundedNouvelle-Orleans in 1718

JulesJulius

Landry– StLandry Parish is home to many a Cajun

Leon, Leontel

LeRoy– Leroy is originally from “le roi” or, “the king”

Louis –Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima are both Louisiananatives

Octave

Otis

Napoleon

Philippe– The city was named for Philippe II, Duc d’Orleans

Pierre– Pierre Augustin Charles Bourguignon Derbigny was among Louisiana’s Creole governors

Remy

Rene

Rex

Theodore, Theodule, TheophileTheophilus

Virgil

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