Thursday, January 06, 2005
les bonne temps roulet
According to our local paper, we have the second largest Mardi Gras festival in the state. You have probably heard of the little city in Louisiana that holds the bragging rights to having the largest festival, NewOrleans.
The hoopla begins tonight, at the Twelfth Night celebration where the grand promenade of the kings, queens, and captains of over 40 krewes takes place. No, I won't be in attendance, as a sober Protestant, I was raised not to take part in "all that foolishness".
But it is a part of the history of the area, and a grand opportunity for colorful photographs, so I probably will be braving the crowds in search of interesting photo fodder. The season is a short one this year, with culmination of the last hurrah before the Lenten season coming this year on Tuesday, February 8. The word carnival, loosely translated means farewell to the flesh. Mardi Gras is of course, French, for Fat Tuesday.
Like so many other things, Mardi Gras has to some degree been corrupted by the commercialization of the celebration. I would venture to guess that most people who are out passing a good time on Mardi Gras are more interested in making love to the flesh than saying farewell to the flesh. But in smaller rural Cajun communities the season still has personal meaning and does not seem so much like one big orgy. And they still adhere to the tradition of not eating meat and giving up something for Lent. (Though, while growing up, many of my friends gave up things like Hershey bars, while continuing to imbibe on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, or plain M&Ms).
It has only been in the last few years that I have attended the parades. My husband worked at a place located along the parade route, and doing business was impossible on Fat Tuesday, so the employees and their families gathered and barbecued in the parking lot and watched the whole she-bang go down. It was always an interesting experience. However, my husband no longer works at that location, and if I get any pictures, I will have to work at getting them by walking the parade route, after I have parked my car a jillion miles away.
As a rather serious-minded individual, one prone to see the darkness behind such celebrating, it is sometimes hard for me to get into the spirit of things. Instead of seeing mirth and merry-making, I tend to see the various messes that are left behind for the street crews to clean up, the number of accidents rising shortly after the last parade is finished, and the suffering of people who do not know how to have a good time without being inebriated. I see emptiness. So there, that's my view of the dark side of Mardi Gras.
Don't let me mislead you, there are some fun sides to Mardi Gras, and our fair city has worked hard to try and keep a family atmosphere about the holiday. There is a children's parade, and the Krewe of Barkus parade, where the pet owners dress up their animals in Mardi Gras costumes.
I'll try to get some pictures, come February.
Now, another thing I want to know: since Mardi Gras is a holiday that has religious roots, and not everybody celebrates it, am I guilty of being politically incorrect by saying "Happy Mardi Gras"? I'm just saying, because you know, some folks get might offended at being wished Merry Christmas, and I have never heard anyone complain about being told to have a Happy Mardi Gras.