A bayou is a Franco-English term used in the United States for a body of water typically found in a flat, low-lying area, and can refer either to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland. The name "bayou" can also refer to a creek whose current reverses daily due to tides and which contains brackish water highly conducive to fish life and plankton.
The word was first used by the English in Louisiana and is thought to originate from the Choctaw word "bayuk", which means "small stream".
These marshes or wetland areas move very slowly and make ideal homes for creatures like alligators, crawfish and catfish -- all of which are popular bayou foods.
The bayou culture is actually more diverse than many may think. There is no doubt that the most closely associated culture to the bayou is the Cajun culture. The Cajuns were French-speaking settlers relocated from Nova Scotia. They were actually known as "Acadians," but the local dialect eventually led to the word becoming "Cajun." In South Louisiana's bayous the culture is as diverse as the ingredients found in the local gumbo. In addition to the French Canadians that were the foundation of much of the bayou culture, there are also significant influences from Spanish, German, African and Irish settlers as well as Native Americans. In modern Cajun culture on the bayou, the people are a blend of all these cultures. In the Southern Louisiana bayous today, you can often find people who consider themselves "Cajuns" who primarily speak French, but have last names like Smith, McGee or Manuel as well as the French surnames common in the region.
The “Wishing Tree” which was used in Disney’s “The Princess and The Frog”.
One of the first things to strike you with a sense of wonder when you visit the deep South is the grandeur of beautiful, draping Spanish moss decorating the huge trees.
If you don’t live there, then the charming and somewhat spooky appearance of the silver-gray strands, hanging like natural Halloween decorations, summon images of old plantations, bayous and the swamps seen in movies.
When it sways in the wind at night, this tangled “tree hair”, as the Native Americans called it, is both eerie and intriguing. French explorers dubbed it “Spanish Beard” as an insult, so the Spanish then named this moss “French Hair”. It has been used as bedding, stuffing, upholstery, insulation, mulch, medicine and in arts and crafts; it has even been used as an ingredient in making voodoo dolls. Yet this flowering plant is not even a true moss. It is a distant member of the pineapple family and grows until it looks like it is dripping from large trees. It can grow over 25 feet long and does not kill the giant, ancient trees.