Written by Caitlynn Woods (Features Writer)
Mardi Gras is an annual carnival practice full of food and goods, to celebrate the start of the fasting season for many Christian individuals. Mardi Gras can also be known as its French translation, Fat Tuesday. This is referring to the last day of eating more rich foods, before the lean days of Lent. Lent is a 40 day period that comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. On Ash Wednesday, a season of reflection and preparation before celebrating Easter comes. By partaking in the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, food, and festivals.
For the most part, Mardi Gras takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lent, the fasting season, and the parades are also popularly celebrated in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Some more locations where Mardi Gras is celebrated are Venice in Italy, Sydney in Australia, St. Louis in Missouri, Mobile in Alabama, Galveston in Texas, and Nice in France.
Even though Mardi Gras is most popularly celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, it originated in Mobile, Alabama. In 1703, a secret society known as Masque De Mobile was formed to organize floats that were used in parades for the Mardi Gras celebration. Over a decade later, the celebrations came to New Orleans in 1718. It did, however, take approximately a whole century for Mardi Gras to become an established, regular tradition.
The individuals who attend these Mardi Gras parades have always worn bright, festive clothing and colorful costumes. The main three colors seen in the parades are green, purple, and gold. People normally wear masks and beads that are thrown down from the people who perform on the floats. The music played loudly from the parades is jazz and blues, as New Orleans is famous for its cultural gift of music.
While Mardi Gras is a tradition where citizens flood the streets into massive parades that last for days on end, this would make it rather complicated to attend with our current circumstances with the pandemic. The parades, floats, and parties were canceled due to coronavirus; and despite that, people still found ways to celebrate this holiday. Houses were decorated like the traditional parade floats that you would normally see, people donated to those in need just as they would before, and bright colors, music, and fun still occurred during these strange times.
The majority of individuals who decorated their houses to be especially festive were the groups who would normally be organizing the parades. They are known as Krewes. These Krewes use donations, fundraisers, corporate sponsorships, and related merchandise to raise money for the decorations and traditions of Mardi Gras. There is one Krewe, known as the Krewe of House Floats, who is raising a $100,000 campaign to give back to the people who are most affected during the parade cancelations since many of them lost their job due to the pandemic.
Mardi Gras will be celebrated for many years to come, therefore, the future dates of the celebration can always be predicted. Since Ash Wednesday (the day after the Mardi Gras celebration, and the day the fasting season begins) is always 46 days before Easter, it is not so difficult to tell future celebration dates, as long as you know when Easter is. Since Easter is on April 17th in 2022, the Mardi Gras celebrations will occur on March 1st, that same year.
To conclude briefly, Mardi Gras is a traditional holiday full of fun, bright colors, good music, and giving. No matter how hard it may be, the celebrations will never subside, pandemic or no pandemic. As they say on Fat Tuesday, “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler” or “Let the good times roll.”