Written by Lexi Baysinger. Media by Charley Phillips.
“Beads, alcohol, sex, drugs, and adrenaline,” that’s what comes to mind to sophomore Annie Reyes when I asked her what she thought about Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. The DC celebrates the holiday by giving students a Cajun meal. Sophomore Kristen Kanaskie wasn’t sure what to think. She didn’t grow up with the tradition, so she wasn’t sure what Mardi Gras was outside the giant party, other than the fact that king cake was tasty. I think that these students sum up the overall view of Mardi Gras. Either people think it’s one big party, or they have some knowledge that it’s a church tradition and have no real idea of why it exists.
According to the Huffington Post website, Mardi Gras has roots in a pagan spring festival. Unlike other holidays that the Romans tried to eradicate, this festival was adapted to the Christian calendar, placed the day before Ash Wednesday. It wasn’t an official holiday until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII chose to put it the day before Ash Wednesday. This was because it was a time of celebration, which fit perfectly as the church moved into the Lenten season, where they would give up earthly pleasures. Huffington Post’s article also says that an unofficial tradition of Mardi Gras refers to it’s other name, “Shrove Tuesday.” This unspoken tradition is the act of going into confession the night before Ash Wednesday so that the person would enter Lent free of the weight of their sin.
The International Business Times website also covers the backgrounds of some Mardi Gras traditions. The masks typically worn during Mardi Gras celebrations were originally used as a way for people to move past their classes. They allowed a short period where everyone could be at the same level of society. The tradition of the beads, and their color, was started by the king during the time of the first daytime Carnival, another name for
Mardi Gras celebrations in 1872. The king wanted the colors to represent royalty, so he chose purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith. The beads were originally made out of glass and throwing them wouldn’t become a tradition in New Orleans until they were made of plastic. The holiday has grown to be so much more than it used to be. As shown before, a lot of people don’t understand that it is meant to be a time to not only celebrate, but to prepare for the time of fasting that comes with Lent. Now Mardi Gras has been taken to the extreme and is filled with floats, beer, and parties.