Louisiana has nearly 30 official cultural symbols, focusing largely on food and symbols of the arts.
|blue, white and gold
|Mayhaw Jelly and Louisiana Sugar Cane Jelly
|beignet (ben yay)
|Natchitoches Meat Pie
|North Louisiana Meal
|Cocktail of New Orleans
|Hog Dog Trial
|Uncle Earl’s Hog Dog Trials
|State Museum of Natural History
|Louisiana State University Museum of Natural History
|Cajun / Creole Heritage
|Hoop nets, castnets, and shrimp trawls
|Christmas in the Country
|Gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin
|St. Mary Parish
|You Are My Sunshine
|Louisiana My Home Sweet Home
|The Gifts of Earth
|Hurricane Katrina Song
|Come Back to Louisiana
|American Folk Dance
|I Am Louisiana
|America, We the People
|Pledge of Allegiance
Louisiana’s official colors are blue, white, and gold. Its official symbol is the fleur de lis, French for lily blossom. More precisely, a fleur de lis is a stylized lily blossom traditionally associated with France. A white fleur de lis is featured on the Louisiana Creole flag pictured above.
Creoles are persons descended from the inhabitants of colonial Louisiana during the period of both French and Spanish rule. The Creole flag is not an official state symbol.
Hoop nets, castanets, and shrimp trawls were adopted as symbols of Louisiana’s Cajun / Creole heritage. Louisiana shares its state boat, the pirogue, with Illinois.
Louisiana may have been the first state to adopt an official language. When Louisiana was introduced to the union in 1803, its major language had been French. In 1807, the state adopted English as a condition to admittance to the union. As laws were passed, they typically spelled out which languages could be used to comply with each regulation.
But does this qualify as a state symbol, or is it just an ancient law? Moreover, this legal act can probably be considered a historical anachronism, rather than a state symbol. In fact, it isn’t clear if the law is still on the books. Current lists of Louisiana’s state symbols don’t mention an official language, and some sources clearly state that Louisiana has no official language.
It would be rather brazen for a state with such a strong French heritage to designate English its official language today. Just ask residents of neighboring Texas
Culinary Symbols ˆ
As you may know, cuisine is another word for food. More precisely, it describes a manner of preparing food, or a style of cooking. Louisianans take their cuisine seriously.
We’ve already met the crawfish and Creole tomato. Either or both of them can be used in gumbo, which is Louisiana’s official cuisine.
Gumbo can be broadly described as a very convenient, flexible multicultural stew. If you have leftover perishable meats or seafood, just put them in your gumbo. If you have a big crowd to feed, heat up some gumbo. Gumbo is widely associated with social events and community celebrations.
Gumbo is a central feature of Mardi Gras celebrations in rural Acadiana in southern Louisiana. Bridge City, Louisiana, calls itself the Gumbo Capital of the World and hosts an annual gumbo festival (www.bridgecitygumbofestival.org). However, Louisiana legislators designated Chackbay—which hosts the annual Louisiana Gumbo Festival (www.lagumbofest.com)—the Gumbo Capital of Louisiana.
Louisiana also has an official meat pie (the Natchitoches meat pie), doughnut (beignet), and two official jellies (mayhaw and Louisiana sugar cane).
Chef Hardette Harris was concerned about southern Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, getting all the glory. Northern Louisiana also has some wonderful cuisine. Thanks to her efforts, legislators adopted an official North Louisiana meal. The main dishes include fried catfish, fried chicken, barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken, barbecue smoked sausage, and baked ham.
There’s nothing special about Louisiana’s official drink, milk. California produces more milk than Wisconsin, The Dairy State.
Louisiana is among the states with an official tartan (below left). Blue represents Louisiana’s sky, lakes, bayous, rivers, and waterways. Green represents agriculture and forests, while white is symbolic of rice, sugar cane, cotton, and magnolias. Black symbolizes petroleum and natural resources. On the right is my vision of a Louisiana tartan, highlighting the state’s official colors, blue, white, and gold. Lavender represents the official state wildflower.