Topics: Mardi Gras, Carnival, New Orleans Mardi Gras Pages: 5 (1543 words) Published: October 8, 1999
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
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 begins on Twelfth Night and ends at
Midnight on Mardi Gras.(The Folklore of American Holidays pg. 84-97)
Mardi Gras goes back to an ancient Roman custom of
merry making before a period of fast. In Germany Mardi
Gras is called Fastnacht. In England it is called pancake
day or pancake Tuesday.(World Book 2000 pg. 197)
Around1820 a group of Creole youths, returning to
New Orleans from Paris, decided to liven things up in the
continental style with a masked procession of substantial
size. They appeared in the streets in every variety of
costume while women leaned over galleries to throw roses
and bonbons. (The Folklore of American Holidays pg.84-97)
In 1857, the date usually given as the beginning of the
Mardi Gras, a new organization was formed. It was to
present a parade with floats and torch lights. The
organization called itself "The Mystic Krewe of Comus,"
and it put on a parade of two floats: one carrying a King,
the other showing Satan in a blazing hell. Since that time
only major conflicts have interfered, the Spanish American
war not having been considered "Major." (The Folklore of American...
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