Mardi Gras

Staff Writer: Haley Roe-Deters

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The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back from medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From here, the traditional meaning of “Boeuf Gras,” or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies. So the tradition was brought to France.

Each week during the Lenten season, there was at least one day, and more often three or even four days (depending on where and when in medieval Europe, you were) during which no meat was to be eaten. Since Lent always starts on the seventh Wednesday before Easter, the religious following of Jesus, would choose the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday to feast, before beginning the season of “fasting”.

So basically it’s called “Mardi Gras” because the holiday got its name from France and “Mardi Gras” in French means “Fat Tuesday” in English. Ash Wednesday was the day that the fasting began (no eating). So they had a huge feast the day before, which is a Tuesday and they would eat all they could before the fasting began.

As you can now see, “Mardi Gras” is nothing more than a practical day of preparation for the Lenten season. The day itself, celebrates or commemorates nothing. “Mardi Gras” is simply the given name, of the day before Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the Lenten Season.

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The most famous place to celebrate Mardi Gras in the United States is in the city of New Orleans. However the ancient traditions have changed over the years to entertain citizens rather that teach about history. A lot of tourists use this holiday to get drunk and dance through the streets of New Orleans. New Orleans’s celebration is obviously Louisiana’s (and the United States’s) most famous Mardi Gras event.

The official Mardi Gras colors were selected in 1872 to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Alexis Alexandrovich Romanoff whose house colors were purple, green, and gold. Purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power.

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