Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras - Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Today's post was originally published on this blog on February 24, 2009.

Tonight at midnight, Mardi Gras celebrations are officially over, and the season of Lent begins. It seems this celebration, a religious-based one that dates back to the second century in ancient Rome, catches on in more places every year. Although large parades and related festivities are still confined to predominantly Catholic areas in Louisiana and coastal cities all the way from Beaumont, Texas to Mobile, Alabama, including the Mississippi Gulf Coast, smaller celebrations of green, gold, and purple continue to pop up every year in areas farther north. King cakes, with plastic "babies" are sold in chain grocery stores throughout the midwest, and colorful beads hang from the rear-view mirrors of cars whose owners have never set foot in "Mardi Gras Country." It seems that Mardi Gras has become "everyone's celebration."

Why has this happened? Have we become a country of party-goers and merrymakers, where everyone is looking for something to celebrate? Maybe. But more likely than not, traditional celebrations such as Mardi Gras serve as means to bring people together in ways that ordinary, everyday celebrations cannot. They create a common bond of tradition, promote a spirit of community, and create an opportunity to live for a few moments in the present that removes some of the stress of everyday life. And during these difficult economic times, celebrations like Mardi Gras, with its meaning steeped in years of history and tradition, are important to all of us.

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