Each New Year, when my sis and I were kids, our Mamère T (Dad's stepmom) would hand us some silver dollar coins. She'd say, "Happy New Year! Here's your étrenne." The first time I got my coins, I had to ask for an explanation of this étrenne. Mamère T explained that it was my New Year's gift and that it was something that our French ancestors did.
Unfortunately, I don't really know how it's done in France. However, my family is of partial French descent (also German), so I'll buy the explanation that my ancestors gave small monetary gifts to family and others at New Years.
So, while giving an étrenne is not exclusively Cajun and not all Cajuns give or receive étrennes, I'm still putting this one up as my Cajun Thing of the Week. It's also a nice little memory of my childhood.
Wishing all of my friends and family a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2009 -- whether or not you get an étrenne!