Mardi Gras Essay

1361 words - 5 pages

Mardi Gras

This paper is about Mardi Gras, A festival or Carnival

celebrated once a year. In this paper I will discuss how

Mardi Gras originated, when it is celebrated, how it is

celebrated, and what does it mean to all the different

cultures.

     Mardi Gras, in the French speaking parts of the world

and in some US southern states is the last day of carnival

festivities preceding Lent, the time of penitence observed

by Christians in preparation for Easter. Mardi Gras (?Fat

Tuesday?) is a French term for Shrove Tuesday, the day

before the start of Lent. Before Lent festivities reach the

climax on a day in February or March, depending on what

date Easter is.(Americana pg. 308)

     French colonists brought Mardi Gras to America in

the early 1700?s. It grew popular in New Orleans,

Louisiana, and spread through the southern states. Mardi

Gras is a legal holiday in Alabama and Florida and in eight

counties of Louisiana. The New Orleans celebration is the

most famous. But Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile,

Alabama also have celebrations. (World Book pg. 197)

     History of Mardi Gras in New Orleans during the 18th

century. Many wealthy Louisiana families would leave their

rural plantations to spend the winter months in New

Orleans, where they held lavish parties and masked balls.

The first written reference to Mardi Gras celebrations in

New Orleans appears in a 1781 report of the Spanish

government, which controlled Louisiana. The report

addressed problems that might arise from allowing slaves to

wear masks at the winter festivities. The United States took

control of Louisiana in 1803, and the New Orleans? city

council banned all masked entertainment three years later.

Enforcement of the law appears to have been erratic. By the

mid-1820s masks and costumes were again legal. The first

documented Mardi Gras parade took place in 1837, and the

parade soon became an annual tradition. However,

outbursts of violence at the parades gave the festivities a

bad name.(?Mardi Gras? Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99)     

     Shrove Tuesday immediately precedes Ash

Wednesday and is the last day before Lent. Mardi Gras has

been noted for the elaborate mumming parades and

boisterous parties that characterize its celebration in New

Orleans, Trinidad, France and Italy. The name comes from

the custom of ?shriving? or purification through confessing

ones sins prior to Lent. The holiday is related to the coming

of a New Year. (The Folklore of American Holidays pg. 84-97)

     In England, football games were played on shrove

Tuesday, ritualistic contests embodying the conflict

between winter and summer, darkness and light , death and

rebirth. Traditional food for this holiday includes thick

soups of pigs feet, beans, peas, and pancakes. In fact

?Pancake Day? is another name for Shrove Tuesday.

Carnival season...

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