Mardi Gras 2014: A History Of The Holiday
Ellisha Rader Mannering
Mardi Gras is a popular holiday that is celebrated all around the world. It starts off with “Fat Tuesday” and a traditional feast. While Mardi Gras celebrations are plentiful and often extravagant, many people get so wrapped up in the celebration that they forget the reason behind it and the history of the holiday.
Mardi Gras celebrations often last for days and even weeks, but the tradition of “Fat Tuesday” is the true holiday. The feast of “Fat Tuesday” takes place on the day before Lent. Since Lent is celebrated with fasting, the feast is often large in order to hold everyone over until they finish their fast.
Mardi Gras parades and festivals go back to medieval Rome, when masks were used as disguises so lower class people could party and mingle with upper class people and vice versa, without the stress of feeling out of place.
The lights that are used as Mardi Gras decorations also have a historical link. In medieval times, lights were used to light to way for nighttime travelers who were on their way to a city to celebrate Lent.
Some Mardi Gras traditions are old and have historical significance, but others are fairly new. The parades and drinking associated with the holiday caught on in recent years, but still date back to the mid 1800’s. Certain parts of the world also serve special foods in honor of the holiday and as part of tradition.
In New Orleans, the number one destination for Mardi Gras partiers, the festival lasts for two weeks, and includes dancing, drinking, parades, games and contests. Many people throw beads and give away small trinkets during the parade and festivities for fun and entertainment.
While many people who celebrate Mardi Gras, just do it so they can be part of a huge party, its religious history is still important to many others.
Were you aware of the religious and historical significance of Mardi Gras?
Image via Wikimedia Commons