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Category: Mardi Gras names

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In this week’s dispatch, Abby Sandel of AppellationMountain uncovers a treasure trove of wonderfully unique names from the history of Mardi Gras.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras, and in New Orleans, that means one thing: a parade featuring Rex, King of Carnival.  Mardi Gras parades begin days earlier, and every parade organization – called a krewe – has its royalty.  But Rex and his Queen, along with their court of Maids, Dukes, and Pages, occupy a special place in the revels.

Rex traces its roots to 1872, and their royals have been drawn from the most prominent of New Orleans families.  The men named Rex are accomplished civic leaders; their consorts are chosen from the season’s debutantes. 

Over the years, Rex and his court have worn some fascinating names – a mix of old Southern tradition and French influence.  Here are some of my favorites, drawn from decades of Mardi Gras’ reigning royals:

 GIRLS

Southern Doubles – Early days, plenty of Maids were listed as Lulu or Bessie.  Over the years, the listed names became more formal.

Bonny Lorette

Cherry Thalia

Constance Claire

Emmy Lou

Lee Logan

Maria Lisette

Marie Celeste

Mary Nell

Nancy Eugenie

Shawn Ruth

Family Surnames – While the widespread popularity of choices like Madison and Taylor is a recent phenomenon, Southern girls have worn family surnames for generations.

Hanton

Ingersoll

Lanier

Sedley

Townsend

Wilder

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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 While these may not be the choices in use today in the Bayou, they have been culled from historical documents, maps, and folklore from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.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 Greco-Roman 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

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

Cezelia

Clotille

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

DixieUsed 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

EugenieNapoleon’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

JosephineNapoleon’s (second) love

Leonie

Lougenia

Magnolia- The state flower of Louisiana

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

MarieMarie 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

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Mardi Gras Names: Baby Names from the Bayou

Illustration by Jennifer Mehlman at artchixstudio.com

Guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn of You Can’t Call It “It”, a writer, artist, and mother who lives in Brooklyn, New York, brings us this look at the jambalaya of names native to the Louisiana Bayou.

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 Haitian, African, 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 Greco-Roman 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

Read More