Oysters For New Years in Bayou, Louisiana

Folk Tradition:

“Basically my godmother’s niece married this guy who lives in Bayou, Louisiana so it’s like two hours away from New Orleans?  And it’s a really tiny town and their whole schtick is that they have oysters. It’s like where they farm all these oysters. So oysters are really special or whatever there. Whenever she married him or whatever it became their tradition to to harvest them on New Years Eve. And then they like all make them. And now we all go over to my godparents house on New Years. And my godfather is a really good chef and shucks them and he makes different oyster dishes and we eat them.

We started having this be a party when I was in high school so like four years ago ish? But they’ve been doing this forever, they just didn’t start coming over till they had a kid. Then it became more of a family thing. Their family will come to New Orleans and we’ll all meet there. Now my friends fight to like come with me. It’s like a fun thing cause my godfather’s a really good chef. Oysters are so special to Louisiana, but its a really niche tradition and cool. But Bayou is not that far away from New Orleans and not that many people in Louisiana know that people there only eat Oysters for New Years. For them it’s like the way thanksgiving is with turkey.” 


New Year’s in Bayou, Louisiana.

Informant Background:

The informant is 20, from New Orleans.

My Analysis:

This is a perfect example of folklore transcending geography. While the oysters on New Years are a tradition unique to the Bayou region (Informant specified that people in New Orleans, only two hours away, generally don’t even know about this tradition), this family brought the unique folk tradition to New Orleans, where it is now being shared with friends of family and extended beyond the Bayou region exponentially. My informant now resides in LA and she says that should she get married and settle here, she will institute this tradition in her home.

After doing some digging, I discovered that this tradition is of French origin:

Beardsley, NPR. “For the French, New Year Means Good Oysters.” All Things Considered, 04/20/19, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6707229.

This makes sense as Louisiana is proud of its heritage, being colonized by dominantly French immigrants. Perhaps the reason the tradition has only been preserved in the Bayou region is because of the higher proportion of French immigrants there than in New Orleans. Again, this is an example of mobile folk traditions, having been brought to Louisiana by the French.