Happy Mardi Gras: A Brief History (Some of It True)

What a great holiday! Sandwiched between the Epiphany in January (which commemorates the incarnation of Jesus Christ) and Ash Wednesday (a time of repentance), Mardi Gras is a time for fun!

Mardi Gras represents everything that’s great about hedonism wrapped in religion. PULL UP YOUR SHIRT AND HAVE ANOTHER DRINK is what Mardi Gras literally means in Freole, the French/Creole language spoken by a tribe of natives near the bayou. During Mardi Gras, carnival goers are encouraged to eat and drink and be merry. What an awesome concept! Want to eat fattening food? Indulge! Want an excuse to drink until your liver is pate? Go for it! Want to flash your hooters and get some festival beads? Who doesn’t?!

And the best part of it is that no matter what you do, there are no consequences. It’s like whatever is done in the name of Mardi Gras is granted sin immunity. Food? No calories. Booze? Makes you stronger, better looking and invincible. And no, thank goodness, you did NOT pee in the swimming pool in front of 75 people and two police officers. The 45 pounds worth of beads around your neck? You earned them with your charm and intelligence.

What about Mardi Gras makes people sin-free? Something called Lent. Lent is a sin eraser. You can do anything you want during Mardi Gras as long as you know the rules. Here is the main rule: on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, you have to go to church and have a priest smear some ashes on your forehead. That’s it. Ash erases sin. Even though this rule is easy, don’t forget it. If you fail to get ashes smeared on your head, you have NO immunity for what you did in the prior days.

I knew this couple, Leon and Lori, who went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. They had a great time. Every day they’d post pictures of all the fun things they were doing. It looked like a blast. But something tragic happened the day after Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday. They failed to show up at church. And do you know what happened? They both gained 15 pounds, suffered terrible hangovers, and Leon had to appear in court for some public urination charge. And Lori’s dad called a few months later to comment on a topless picture he saw of her in some video about something going wild.

Yea!  Happy Marti Gras. Have fun and be safe. But make sure you get ashed on Wednesday or be prepared for the consequences!

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