Mardi Gras: Party or Penance
As a Catholic institution, Mount St Mary’s promoted the celebration of Mardi Gras. However, many do not know what exactly Mardi Gras entails or why it is celebrated. To put simply, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday signifies the beginning of Lent which is a 40-day prayer, fasting and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Mardi Gras is mostly celebrated in Southern cities and originated in New Orleans. Many people know what it is, but may not celebrate it. The Fat Tuesday tradition is to consume all the food that is not to be consumed throughout the entirety of the 40 days of Lent. The most famous celebration, like mentioned before, is held in New Orleans where anyone regardless of faith comes together and enjoys the festival. There is music, food, parades and people dress up only using the colors green, purple and gold. Each symbolizes something different: the green symbolizes faith, the purple symbolizes justice and the gold symbolizes power.
There is a certain misconception to Mardi Gras where some people think of it as a big party where everyone goes wild for a day when in reality there is a deeper meaning to it. Lyla Kline (C’24) said that she mainly researched it this year when she noticed the Mount promoting it. “I never really celebrated it and knew a little bit about it. I know it’s the day to kick off the Lent holiday, and a few years ago my dad came back from a New Orleans trip and brought back the colorful masks.” Kline was one of the many students who never celebrated it but knows the basics and took it upon herself to see if she could learn more about it.
Taniya Evanson (C’24) spoke on how she moderately celebrates the holiday while being at home with her family. Being here at the Mount was a little bit different than her celebrating at home since she was not with her family but she personally tried to celebrate as much as possible.
“With my family in New York, we would eat meat stew, gumbo and the King Cake and spend the day listening to music and wear the colors of Mardi Gras. It’s almost like celebrating the New Year.” Evanson explained that the big festivals usually occur in New Orleans and are not as prevalent in New York but many celebrate it in their homes by throwing parties and eating food to practice the Mardi Gras tradition in any way that they can. Evanson wasn’t able to get a slice of King Cake this year but did get in her last serving of meat before the start of Lent.
Kaitlyn Diaz (C’24) expressed her little knowledge of the Mardi Gras holiday. “I don’t really know much about it. You always just hear about Mardi Gras and it just looks really fun, but I wasn’t really aware of the meaning of it. But now that I know a little bit more it’s really interesting.” Diaz will try and see if next year she can partake in celebrating Mardi Gras and can continue celebrating it as the years pass.
Due to COVID-19, celebrations have been limited through the years 2020 and 2021, but many hope that next year the festivals will come back bigger and better.