Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mardi Gras

My favorite city in the world is so deeply rooted in history, something that I absolutely love about it.
One of the many traditions there is the Mardi Gras celebration. This is what today's blog is about. I'm on a mission to bring to light the redeeming qualities of Mardi Gras (which, by the way is in 4 days. Happy Mardi Gras!). I'll be honest, when reading about Mardi Gras I felt that this blog was a bit like a research paper, but don't be deceived! I promise it is interesting (and fairly short) :)
The celebration of Mardi Gras goes way back, originally being a pagan ritual that was incorporated into Christian Rome. It was sort of used as a last "hurrah" before the penitential season of Lent. Although its roots aren't solely French, Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") was brought to the New Orleans area by French explorers. And no one does it like New Orleans now, that's for sure!
Mardi Gras didn't get it's bad reputation until the 19th century when masked paraders demonstrated violent behavior during the celebration. Because of this, the press demanded that Mardi Gras celebrations should be stopped. Fortunately, a group of men known as Comus made Mardi Gras a beautiful celebration, proving to the public that it could safe and enjoyable for all people. "Krewes", which are kind of like secret societies, were formed. These krewes get to plan their parades, choosing themes, costumes, floats, etc. 
In recent years, the general public knows Mardi Gras as an excuse to go to New Orleans and do inexcusable things. The media highlights this behavior making it seem like New Orleans is one big, dirty place during the Mardi Gras season. I want my readers to know that this is NOT the case. It happens, yes, in certain places in the French Quarter. I also want my readers to know that the people that are doing these things are out of town, foolish tourists. Northerners, mostly. NOT the people of New Orleans that I work with on a regular basis.
Every person from New Orleans that I've talked to has told me the same thing: Mardi Gras is a time of celebration. A holiday when the family can go outside, grill, pass football and share time with their neighbors. Especially after a thing like Hurricane Katrina, wouldn't you like to see your city dressed up and brought together? New Orleans natives rarely go to the few crazy parades. Most of the parades are kid and family friendly. Kids will sit on shoulders and reach up to floats as the people on them hand out beads and stuffed animals. I know! I've been to one :)
Me, Bethany and Jen at our first Mardi Gras parade!
Hopefully this post gave you a little more insight to the city I'm ministering to. It is a pretty awesome place :)
Thank you for your prayers and support as always and I hope your week is going well!

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