SUCH FINE FUCKERY
Or, "I Evidently Grew Up In Mongolia Or Some Shit"
So in Catholic culture we have lent - this 40-day period in the spring while we wait for The Living God to lay eggs on our mantles and so on - and one of the biggest more-traditionalist Catholic habits in lent is to give up something you indulge in. For most of the young'uns when I was a kid, our parents made us give up candy. 40 days without candy in rural Atlantic Canada was not pleasant in the mind of an eight-year-old, so the parents were always coming up with a way to let us indulge, and we had a centuries-old tradition to encourage just that. I was explaining it to zebrazebrazebra
and she said it was fucked up enough that I should explain it; it's such a bizarre practice that it is one of the few things that is legitimately not documented on the internet, and she says, I quote, "The internet would be all up on that."
La Mi-Careme means mid-lent, and in other French cultures they celebrate it with some house parties and mumming-type festivities on the third Sunday of lent, and allow one night of raucous drinking and fine food. Seems logical, right?
Yeah, no. In Acadia we kick all that shit up to 11:
That, my friends, is La Mi-Careme, and he doesn't come for you on mid-lent, he comes on a random day in the spring when it's warm enough to fuck about town under a flannel sheet. He is our cultural personification of the devil, a guttural, hissing thing that comes to your door to make you give into temptations.
Every year, one member of the community who loved their moonshine would get a bit sideways and pull out their flannel sheets and scratchiest wool gloves and crawl around under the sheet, like a crab, door to door all through the town, and knock and make a few coyote-like yipping noises. The children would run off and hide, but the parents would open the door and push their children - sometimes tearing them out of bed in the middle of the night, if La Mi-Careme was a relative of high enough standing, and came later than expected or on the wrong night - right toward the scratchy rum-stinking paws of this Easter Monster. La Mi-Careme would grab at your ankles or legs or whatever body part was at La Mi-Careme's level, and your duty as the child of the house would be to beat the everloving fuck out of him, without ever moving the sheet to determine who it was (we firmly believed, as kids, that it was the devil - that, like the eucharistic miracle, the flannel sheet transformed Uncle Edward or Great-Aunt Marlene into Beelzebub). When you actually hit them hard enough to make them stop - or grabbed a fireplace poker and took a swing - they'd toss you a chocolate bar and a bag of chips and fuck along to the next good Catholic home. Your parents, in a show of thanks, would leave La Mi-Careme a libation: a pint of moonshine on the doorstep to postpone the spins until the next house.
See, the reason we were so scared, though, was because there was a risk of kidnapping:
La Mi-Careme was generally someone with a child or grandkid in the right age bracket, and they would straight-up take them the fuck out of their relatives' houses and drag them into the dark night (oddly enough, always toward their own houses; we were naive, okay?). We lived in constant fear, from February through May, of the night when we too would become the concubines of Satan; but, hey, some devil-dick was a realistic risk for that one piece of chocolate we'd get all season.
The tradition lives back East, but in the Acadian diaspora it's got a bit diluted. My Great-Aunt Rena decided to make La Mi-Careme in the apartment building she lived in when she first moved to Toronto in the 70s, a downtown project full of coloureds and immigrants, and as you can imagine, it went pretty fucking poorly. Yet all of our best family memories involve some doting old aunt or uncle getting a baseball bat or shell full of birdshot in the ass and not being able to sit in the pew at Palm Sunday mass.
Seriously how is that even a thing, and how does the internet not know of this?