January 6 is a very special night. It is the Feast of the Epiphany, or the Three Kings. It is Twelfth Night, or the twelfth night after Christmas, which ends the Christmas season. It is the beginning of carnival! And it is the first day when we can eat King Cake!
January 6 is also the birthday of Saint Joan of Arc. We celebrate this in New Orleans with a parade by the Krewe of Jeanne d'Arc. I went down to the French Quarter this evening with David to see this parade.
The Krewe of Jeanne d'Arc is a walking parade. Krewe members make their own medieval-era costumes. There are such medieval characters as crusaders, monks, nuns, peasants, and stilt walkers. A young girl on horseback represents the Maid of Orleans, or Joan as a soldier. Another woman wears a tall white hat with Joan's "crimes" inscribed upon it (Heretic, Blasphemer, Relapsed, Idolater) and represents Joan as a condemned prisoner soon to be burned at the stake. Three men pull an authentic medieval cart constructed specifically for the parade by students at Delgado Community College.
The Krewe of Jeanne d'Arc ends its parade at the Place de France, where there is a statue of Saint Joan on her horse, a gift from the people of France to the people of New Orleans. There, everyone enjoys King Cake to celebrate Joan's birthday. This year, January 6, 2011, is Joan's 599th birthday. Next year, January 6, 2012, will be Joan's 600th birthday!