By Samantha Allan
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is marked as a day of binging and partying before the time of reflection and fasting in the Lenten season. People from all over don their best beads and intricate masks for a night of fun.
Unlike many other holidays, there are no expectations of gifts or specific signs of affection. Mardi Gras is a time to celebrate with friends and family. Large parties, festivals and parades are available in spades for a single night. Costumes, games and more food than a single person could ever need are sure to light up many homes.
The fact that it is on a Tuesday never seems to slow anyone wishing to go out and have a good time. However, many visitors to New Orleans actually begin the festivities the weekend before and continue into the late weekday hours.
History.com notes that from the very beginning, Mardi Gras was a lavish affair. Dating back thousands of years, Mardi Gras began as a pagan celebration of fertility and the oncoming spring. Mardi Gras, as we know it today, was later incorporated into Christianity as the day it signaled the beginning of Lent.
While the intent behind the holiday may have changed over time, the grandeur never did. Purple, green and yellow decorations litter the streets and halls in which the parties take place. While the beads are a signature staple of any Mardi Gras party, the masks are definitely the most interesting.
Masks give us the opportunity to be someone else, if only for a night or two. Crowds of people are given the opportunity to dress in intricate costumes and remain completely anonymous. The romantic ideal that’s associated with an air of mystery is one of the aspects of Mardi Gras that makes it so unique.
While Halloween also presents the opportunity for costumes, it largely focuses around candy and children. Halloween parties also usually contain an underlying threat of the scary or supernatural. Mardi Gras does not have this type of theme. It gives you the chance to dress in your fanciest clothes and feel as though you have stepped back in time.
Anyone can feel like an aristocrat for a day as they celebrate. There are balls, king and queen prizes and other types of celebration not a part of everyday society any longer.
The final great aspect of this holiday is the rich food and drinks filling various styles of tables. If you are celebrating in the best way, much of this food reflects the southern classics of New Orleans cuisine. Seafood, grits, rice, chicken, king cakes and many more options give the party that extra air of authenticity.
When all of the great food and decorations come together, the New Orleans experience is easily transferred to any city. Mardi Gras is an often underrated holiday. With so many other major holidays, many do not celebrate it at all.
Hopefully, you will reconsider this coming year and celebrate this rare and wonderful holiday. Enjoy the chance to be a New Orleans aristocrat for a day and keep this long-standing tradition going strong.