What Is Mardi Gras??

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Maybe I am the only one, but I honestly have no idea what Mardi Gras is or why we celebrate it. Other then girls pulling up their tops for cheap beads, I got nothing. Thank goodness there is this wonderful new thing called Google. I am on a mission to find out what in the world this crazy holiday is about.

As it turns out this is based on a Catholic tradition of “Fat Tuesday”. Who knew?? The idea behind it is to eat huge amounts of rich, fatty foods before Ash Wednesday and the start of the fasting period of Lent. The celebration does allow for questionable behavior, since most people confess their sins on Ash Wednesday. With it being the following day, the chances of dying before you were able to confess and cleanse your soul, were low. This seemed to be a perfect time for a big crazy party.

In the US, New Orleans is the home of our Mardi Gras Carnival. New Orleans was founded in 1718 and by 1730 the celebration was celebrated with high society balls. (Which are still thrown every year by the who’s-who’s of the city) In 1756 six business men got together to form a secret society, with one main goal. To hold a large celebration complete with floats and throws for Mardi Gras. This party was to be open to everyone, and it was to be held in the streets right in front of where the balls were to be held. It was to be “The Best Free Show Ever”. To this day, our celebrations are much like those, and still has the same tag line.

In 1872 Rex the nominated and elected King of the Carnival; chose the Gold, Purple, and Green as the official colors of Mardi Gras. These colors stood for: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. These are still the colors that most people, here in the US, associate with Mardi Gras.

After reading a brief history of this crazy party, has it changed any of your thoughts? Do you view it differently? I have to say that I do. Reading about it, made this holiday even more interesting to me. To think that this is all spurred from a religious holiday, struck as ironic to me. By the way, the whole having to flash the crowd for throws is not actually part of the main stream celebration. It is a very small group, only in the Bourbon Street area of the French Quarter. This particular area, does not have any of the floats or parades that go through it. So while it is all that people think about, when they think about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it is not even around where the main celebrations are taking place.



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