Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Mardi Gras is coming up and I am pumped. I’ve got some bad decisions to make and other people to blame them on. Aside from the day off work, the best part is that I can repent my sins on Ash Wednesday and be a better person instantly. Praise Jesus!
Many people know Mardi Gras for the way the media portrays it in New Orleans: boobs, booze, and beads. It’s quite a bit more than that. There’s a rich, colorful history that precedes our current vision of Mardi Gras.
We were taught in school that purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power. Today, the colors mean nothing more than LSU football and Tulane University. So what do our current traditions have in common with the old? Booze. Lots and lots of booze.
That being said, there is more than one way to celebrate Mardi Gras. The style of celebration simply depends on your location. The good thing is, it’s kind of a free-for-all holiday so almost anything goes.
New Orleans, like many cities, starts celebrating Mardi Gras early–at least two weeks early–and then it builds up to a big finale. There are numerous parades (When is there not a parade in NOLA?) plus lots of jazz bands and plenty of costumes sporting the traditional green, purple, and gold colors. The French Quarter houses much of the lewdness associated with New Orleans’s Mardi Gras celebration. If you’re into that kind of thing, then that’s where you should go.
Smaller towns celebrate Mardi Gras in a completely different manner. These small, Cajun towns host what is known as a “Chicken Run.” The townsfolk dress up in an unapologetic manner and chase chickens as if their lives depended on it. This is an old tradition known as Le Courir de Mardi Gras. The point of the run is to catch the chicken that will eventually go into the gumbo later in the day. There are also parades and tons of booze–that’s pretty much standard.
My town doesn’t go all out for Mardi Gras. We have the typical Mardi Gras balls where everyone gets drunk while wearing formal attire then drives to another bar afterward and drinks more. We have parades full of half-decent floats, that house drunkards who throw beads and cups to other drunk adults while aiming other goodies at small children. I will admit my least favorite part of the holiday is the children. If I catch something awesome, like beads with flashing lights, and a child is nearby, I’m expected to give that kid my lucky catch. Well tough tits, kid. What’s mine is mine. I have a hard enough time catching beads to begin with because I’m so short. The trick? I’ve learned you should jump around and shake the girls a bit. No flashing, please. There are children present.
So, wherever you are when Fat Tuesday rolls around, be sure to get drunk, listen to some jazz, and make some bad decisions. Come Ash Wednesday, it won’t even matter!