If you are new to the city, there a few local traditions that you may not be wise to yet. You may find yourself being invited to a certain event and wondering what it is, if it will be fun, what should you wear, what should you bring and so on. Well fear not newbie, I have got your go-to guide to the five invites you should always accept. My reasoning? Because these are some events that are intrinsically New Orleans, they’re incredibly fun and a great way to meet people and make friends. And there is usually beer. Beer is always good reason to go somewhere.
1) Crawfish Boil
Your first question might be “what is a crawfish?” Well technically, a crawfish is this bug that lives in the mud of freshwaters and looks like a small lobster. Now before you start judging, you should know that those little suckers are AMAZING. They are usually boiled in a blend of spices, lemons, potatoes, and corn until they are soft and juicy. Then the table is covered with newspaper and the crawfish are thrown on the table and everyone digs in. There are a few rules you should know before attending a crawfish boil:
- Do not call them crayfish or crawdads or any other name. Its crawfish. END OF STORY.
- You pick your crawfish. Pinch their tail, twist the end off, suck on the head, then peel the tail shell until you get the meat. Eat the tail meat. Take sip of beer. You must follow these steps otherwise you are wasting crawfish and wasting crawfish IS UNACCEPTABLE. You eat those guts of that mud-dwelling crustaceans and you do it with a smile.
- Do not leave your shells on the table. Throw them away. It’s called manners.
- DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES!
- Enjoy yourself. People usually have crawfish boils outside on warm days, with a keg of beer, the music blaring and with all their friends, family and neighbors. You should do the same.
2) Second LineA second line is a concept that epitomizes New Orleans history and tradition. It is another form of celebration that has roots in the very foundation of the city. During a parade, the musicians and leaders go in the front and they are considered the “first line.” Those who are following behind the parade and dancing and singing to the music are known as the “second line.” Some scholars think that the second line originated in West African dancing rituals, some say that the second line originated when slave dancing became outlawed in Congo Square during the 1700s. Either way, the second line provides an opportunity for anyone that wants to show their enthusiasm and celebration. Second lines usually follow a wedding or a “jazz funeral.” When a community leader passes or someone requests a jazz funeral it means that they want their funeral to be one of celebration. A jazz funeral is when the procession follows a funeral ceremony and the brass band is playing, people are dancing in the street, throwing up their white handkerchiefs and their parasols, and just celebrating a life. Those from New Orleans understand that even death should be celebrated. Dancing through the tears, is just how we roll. But even if you are not invited, if you see the second line coming down the street, you’re free to join. That is the spirit of NOLA, always welcome, always celebrate.
3) Birthday Parties
Birthday parties in New Orleans are special occasions. Everyone tries to take off work, plan something really extravagant, but then those plans fall through so all your friends just end up at the bar down the street partying your ass off and hugging each other all night. Few rules of birthday parties:
- You don’t have to bring a present, paying for drinks is a good way to go.
- Bringing food is also an acceptable present.
- If it is your friends birthday and he points to a lamp and calls it Uncle George, you say “Nice to meet you Uncle George.” Don’t argue, it’s their day.
- If your friend is having a bad birthday, it is your job to do anything you can to make it better.
4) WeddingsMost New Orleans families are Catholic and Catholic weddings a bit different from other weddings. Besides the Mass, Catholics love to dance, drink and eat at their weddings. Weddings are a great way to meet people because everyone is celebrating true love, dressed to the nines, and hopefully there is an open bar. If you go to a wedding and there’s a cash bar, you got some cheap friends, but you can still hit up the buffet line and the dance floor. Hopefully there is a second line after too!
5) Saints Game
If you are new to NOLA, then you might already have your football team. That is fine. Be loyal to your team (we’ll probably respect your more) but if not, feel free to adopt the New Orleans Saints. The Saints may have a bit of a checkered past but they represent something very important to the city of New Orleans. Instead of being famous for the high crime rate, or Hurricane Katrina, or endless amounts of drinking, when the Saints won the Super Bowl, it was for the city. It was a chance for the city to be in the news for something positive because the Saints of past generations were a joke. Now we are contenders. Now teams are in fear of the Saints’ defense. NOLA needed a win and when we won the Super Bowl, this city went damn near bananas. Coach Sean Payton is Batman and Drew Brees is his Robin. Together, they make magic happen. If you are invited to a game, regardless of your allegiances, just go. You won’t be disappointed.