‘Easter Gator’ helps teach Cajun culture and French

‘Easter Gator’ helps teach Cajun culture and French

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -Southwest Louisiana’s rain and mosquitoes can make it tough for the Easter Bunny to deliver eggs to children.

But a newly published book tells how the "Easter Gator" saved the day.

Plus, it tells the story of a Cajun tradition many may not have heard about.

Brothers Max and Coy Carnahan are learning to “paquer,” as they say. (Some pronounce it pock-ay, others just say pock!) It’s a Cajun Easter game to see who can knock eggs together without cracking the shell (The book calls that paquer-ing Easter eggs).

When the game ends, the one whose egg didn't crack is the champion!

Retired teacher, Kathy Thibodeaux, taught children about Cajun Easter for many years with a story she’d written, that is now a book.

“When I married into this culture I found out about paquering Easter eggs. I had no clue that people hit eggs together and got a champ. Everybody has such a good time. You could be a three-day old baby and somebody holds the egg for you and then somebody who’s 90 or 100 years old might pauquer with you because it’s a never ending thing, it’s forever,” Thibodeaux said.

Besides the fun of the story she enjoys sharing the Cajun culture.

"Some of the traditions for example they used to use flowers and weeds and wrap the eggs with those in these little pieces of material and boil them to get some dye. They didn’t have dye back then,” Thibodeaux said.

And the book helps to increase students' vocabulary of French words and pronunciation.

"There’s a cypriere, which is a swamp with the cypress trees. There’s sacrebleu, which is ‘oh my God,’ it’s like a Cajun thing to say when you’re shocked and there is some other terminology in there that are explained. One of the things is a guinea. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what a guinea is,” Thibodeaux said.

The book is illustrated by local artist Mary Beth Hebert, well known for her caricatures, but now helping to pass Cajun Easter culture to the next generation.

Thibodeaux will have book signings from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, at Ally-Gator Book Bites above the Plaid Pig on Ryan and Clarence Streets.

Also, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. she will be at the Christian Book Center and on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. she will attend a reception and book signing at Nelson Elementary in Lake Charles.

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