Creole Culture

By: Shelby M., Tosin A., Kendra R.

The Million Dollar Question: What is the difference between Cajun and Creole?

It is a common misconception to think that Cajun and Creole are the same ethnicity. A Cajun person is a French settler that came to live in Louisiana after they were deported from Canada by England. A Creole person is a Spanish, French, or African American person that was born in the Louisiana colony.

Family, Traditions, & Customs


  • Men are the head of the household.

  • Women stay at home and take care of their families.

  • It was common for Creole people to take widowed family members and orphans of kinship in their homes

  • Tantes or unmarried women relatives lived in many households. They helped with running the household and caring for children.


  • In older days Creoles married in their class.

  • The suitor would ask a woman’s father for her hand in marriage.

  • All meetings of engaged Creole people were chaperoned.

  • Weddings, usually held at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.


  • Baptisms usually took place when the child was one month old. The Godfather and the Godmother were always relatives.

  • The Godmother gave the infant a gift of a gold cross and chain, and the God father offered either a silver cup or a silver knife and fork.

  • Roman Catholics


  • When Creole people died the family of the deceased would put on a grand deuil or full mourning.

  • A grand deuil took about six months and during those months it was improper for families members to jewelry or colorful clothing.

  • Cemeteries held an important place to Creoles, A family tomb received almost as much attention as a church. To not visit the family tomb on All Saints' Day was unforgivable.


  • Most Creoles speak French.


  • Enjoy Music and dancing and very festive.

  • Creoles went to cotillions. That is where young men and women would dance together.

  • It was common for Creole people to hold Saturday night balls.
  • Enjoyed various types of music from jazz to opera.
Creole music



  • The first true Creole dress was worn by women on Sundays and feast days.

  • A floor length skirt (jupe) of a bright color over a white cotton chemise (slip), trimmed at the neck, sleeves and hemmed with lace was worn.

  • A white handkerchief was wrapped around the head or sometimes shaped into a bonnet

  • A white cotton triangle (foulard) was draped over the bosom.

  • The madras (thin cloth) replaced the white handkerchief and were used for their foulards and even for their jupes (skirt).

  • Ribbons were threaded through the lace on sleeves and neck of chemise.


  • Simple but elegant wardrobe were worn.

  • This included black trousers, white long-sleeved shirt, a bow tie and a sash, colored satin or madras, and black shoes and socks.



  • In the 17th century, French explorers and settlers moved into the US.
  • Their dominant presence continued until 1768 when France ceded Louisiana to Spain, but despite Spanish control, French language and customs continued to prevail.

  • Creoles are descendants of these French colonials who fled Haiti to the Gulf Coast when a slave revolt in 1791 that challenged French authority.

  • More than 450,000 black slaves, 40,000 to 45,000 whites, and 32,000 gens-decouleur libres, who were neither white nor slaves lived in Haiti

  • By 1815, over 11,000 refugees had settled in New Orleans.

Where the Name Came From

  • In Louisiana, the term Creole came to represent children of black or racially mixed parents as well as children of French and Spanish descent with no racial mixing.

  • Persons of French and Spanish descent in New Orleans began referring to themselves as Creoles after the Louisiana Purchase to set themselves apart from the Anglo-Americans who moved into the area.
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Creole people


  • Cooking is a distinguishing feature in creole life.
  • It originated in Louisiana.
  • Their dishes include a variety of shellfish, spices, vegetables, and legumes (beans).
  • Creole food is a unique blend of French, Spanish, African, Amerindian, German, Italian, and Irish cuisine.

Creole Favorites

  • Gumbo- A stew like soup.
  • Jambalaya- A dish that contains rice, meat, seasoning, and vegetables.
  • Shrimp Creole- A dish with a mix of shrimp, onions, and various vegetables.
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