By Lucy Reis, E23 Reporter

Over the years, Mardi Gras has evolved into a day, or even several days, full of parties and parades. Although colorful and lively, these celebrations have managed to mask the true meaning of the holiday.

Mardi Gras is also known as Fat Tuesday.

Over the years, Mardi Gras has evolved into a day, or even several days, full of parties and parades. Although colorful and lively, these celebrations have managed to mask the true meaning of the holiday.

 

Mardi Gras occurs between the Christian feasts of Epiphany, sometimes known as Three Kings Day, and Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a period of about six weeks before Easter Sunday, which this year falls on April 16.

During Lent, observers strengthen their beliefs through almsgiving, the repentance of sins, and atonement. Fasting is a practice that many Christians are encouraged to participate in; Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting. Additionally, Fridays during Lent are days on which meat should not be eaten.Parades are associated with Mardi Gras.

So how does Mardi Gras fit in with Ash Wednesday and Lent? When translated from French, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday.” Because Ash Wednesday and Lent are about atonement and the rejection of temptation, people did not want
to be tempted by rich and fatty foods they had lying around the house.

On Mardi Gras, cabinets and pantries would be cleaned out of sweet and savory foods and a great feast would be prepared before the fasting of the Lenten season began the next day.

Mardi Gras originated in medieval Europe. French explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienvelle’s arrived in Louisiana in 1699 and brought the celebration of Mardi Gras with him.

The first American Mardi Gras took place in 1703. Just a fewdecades later, Louisiana governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, began to build the model for Mardi Gras balls in New Orleans that are infamous today by organizing exquisite society balls.  

Performers in the parades often wear colorful costumes.

 

It was during the nineteenth century that the Mardi Gras we are so familiar with began to come together. Eventually, in 1875, Louisiana Governor Henry C. Warmoth signed the “Mardi Gras Act,” which made Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in the state of Louisiana.

 

So if you’re celebrating Mardi Gras this year, remember to stay safe and have fun!

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