This year, thousands of people will celebrate the annual holiday, Mardi Gras, on March 5. The term Mardi Gras is a French term that literally translates into “Fat Tuesday.”
Every year, Mardi Gras is celebrate the day before the Christian tradition of Lent. According to the United Methodist Church, Lent is a 40 day period, not including Sundays, dedicated to prayer and fasting. Its purpose is to mimic the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.
A post from History.com indicated that in the days leading up to Lent, people would consume all their rich and fatty foods due to the restrictive diet and fasting of Lent. According to Got Questions, the period leading up to Lent is know as ‘carnival’, and its final Tuesday is the holiday, Mardi Gras.
Since Mardi Gras is the final day before Lent, it is associated with people’s final chance to indulge. Over many years, this has led to the celebrations seen worldwide throughout media today.
Mardi Gras is mainly associated with New Orleans, Louisiana and is an official holiday of the state.
Florida Southern senior, Hanley Simpson, is from New Orleans and was able to speak on the culture of the celebration.
“Mardi Gras in one of the biggest celebrations for the city of New Orleans,” Simpson said. “It is a huge part of our culture and is something that locals look forward to every year.”
Though thousands of people travel through New Orleans during the whole of the carnival season, those who live in and around the city experience this holiday in their hometown surrounded by all of their friends and family.
History indicated that the first celebration of this holiday in America was on March 3, 1699, when a French explorer landed near present day New Orleans. However, the first Mardi Gras parade would not occur for another 138 years.
Among all the festivities of Mardi Gras is an ample amount of tradition. Two of the most common and famous are the throwing of beads and eating King Cake.
The beads seen throughout the world on the celebration of Mardi Gras consist of the colors purple, green and gold, and they each hold a specific meaning. According to another post by History, purple stands for justice, green stands for faith, and gold stands for power and they were traditionally thrown to those who exhibited such characteristics.
According to a post from Southern Living, the name king cake is derived from the three Wise Men found in scripture. What makes king cake so distinguishable, other than its purple, green and gold coloring, is the presence of a small, often plastic, baby found in each cake. The guest who receives the piece containing the baby responsible for hosting the celebration and providing the cake the following year.
Today, Mardi Gras is celebrated with costumes, makeup, parades, food, beverages and much more including its past traditions. In New Orleans, parades march among the streets throughout the entire Carnival season.
Mardi Gras is a day of celebration and tradition that is especially highlighted and admired in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to Mardi Gras New Orleans, on the day of Mardi Gras itself, parades will begin as early as 10 a.m. and will continue all throughout the day, as people prepare to begin their Lent season.
“My favorite part about Mardi Gras is the whole city coming together on one street in the city for parades, music, food and fun,” Simpson said. “The parades are a blast, but being surrounded by friends, family, and fellow locals makes the experience what it is.”