Nova Scotia

Cape Breton village celebrates unique Lent holiday

The annual tradition of Mi-Carême, a week-long celebration unique to a small Acadian village in Cape Breton, wrapped up on Saturday.

Mi-Carême dates back to the middle ages in France

Masks, costumes, music and dancing - that's Mi-Carême in Cheticamp. (CBC)

The annual tradition of Mi-Carême, a week-long celebration unique to a small Acadian village in Cape Breton, wrapped up on Saturday.

The holiday dates back to the middle ages in France, when Christians asked the church for a break from Lent.

But in Cheticamp the tradition lives on.

Every night for a week, people of all ages put on costumes covering their bodies from head to toe.

"Do as much fun as you can, tease people as much as you can without getting recognized," said Charles Roach, a retired teacher.

Revelers go from house to house until midnight.

At every party, the host inspects each guest trying to uncover the person behind the mask.

They poke and prod until eventually they figure it out.

It is a skill that takes practice, but in a small town like Cheticamp there are few secrets.

"Because we live in a community of about 3, 000 people you understand how somebody moves because you see them all year," said Denise Aucoin.

Residents say Mi-Carême, or mid-lent. is an event that brings people together.

"If you have someone you haven't spoken to for six months, they show up and everything is forgotten. It's a magical time," said Aucoin.

Roach said the holiday is a welcomed break during the long winter months.

"During Mi-Carême week people find new energy, new pep."

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