Les bon temps rouler

That time has finally rolled around again. The only time of the year that you are allowed to get falling down drunk and walk the streets with out getting a single ticket. Bon ton de Mardi Gras!

Many people don’t know the history of this great celebration, so a brief history has been provided.

Mardi Gras, which means “Fat Tuesday” in French, is a holiday originating from ancient pagan traditions that were Christianized by the Catholic Church. Although Fat Tuesday always falls 46 days prior to Easter Sunday (40 days of Lent plus 6 Sundays), the exact date varies from year to year. Fat Tuesday is always celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent – an austere season of fasting and penitence.

Although Mardi Gras refers to a specific day, it isn’t a single-day celebration. The Romans donned masks, dressed in costume, and enjoyed all the pleasures in life to the fullest. As the tradition of this festival spread throughout Europe, the Catholic Church eventually legitimized it as a brief celebration before the penitential season of Lent.

The first historical evidence of Mardi Gras traditions in America dates back to 1699, when a French explorer camped on the Mississippi River, about 60 miles south of present day New Orleans. Since he knew that Mardi Gras was being celebrated in his native country at that time, he named the site Point du Mardi Gras.

Louisiana’s Mardi Gras is marked by several lavish parades thrown by Carnival organizations known as krewes. Items thrown at the parades consists of necklaces of plastic beads, coins called doubloons and stamped with krewes’ logos, and an array of plastic cups, toys, frisbees, and figurines.

The official colors for Mardi Gras are purple which represents justice, green which represents faith, and gold which represents power. These colors for Mardi Gras were chosen in 1872 by the King of Carnival, Rex.