I was born in New Orleans which is famous for jazz music, Po’ Boy sandwiches, seafood, bakeries and maybe most of all, Mardi Gras or Carnival as we sometimes called the pre-Lenten season.
There are parades for about two weeks before the beginning of Lent, which is on Ash Wednesday, climaxing on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. I found some Mardi Grads pictures on the Internet:
Some adults dressed up for Mardi Gras but almost all children were dressed up in costumes. I always had hopes of wearing long, elaborate, hooped skirt dresses but I hopes were never realized. I was dressed up as an angel once or twice with my brother beside me wearing a devil costume as were many other brothers and sisters of the day. My brother and I were both clowns at least once or twice. I never liked clowns.
Floats were detailed often with moving parts like the huge head of a grotesque clown with eyes and a mouth that opened and shut. I never liked clowns. Sometimes beautiful ladies were on flowered floats waving to us. They were dressed in the long, elaborate, hooped skirt dresses I longed for. All the grownups on the floats dressed in costumes and matching masks. They were tossing beads and trinkets to the crowds who were yelling: “Hey mister throw me something!”
Nighttime parades were most mysterious, having a secrecy about them. Always there was music. Black man were carrying huge flaming torches danced lively as the torches somehow remained upright.
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual Lenten sacrifices and fasting of the Lenten season. Maybe one day I will find some of the old photos I remember seeing from Mardi Gras long ago…
Ash Wednesday derives its name from making a cross of ashes on the foreheads of participants to the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent can be marked by fasting, both from food and festivities.
The last week of Lent is Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, when the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is celebrated in many Christian churches by processions in which palms are carried.
Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Washing of the Feet and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday
Following the New Testament story, Jesus’ crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, and at the beginning of the next week the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday recalls the Resurrection of Christ.
Depending on the local custom, Lent ends either on the evening of Maundy Thursday,or at sundown on Holy Saturday, when the Easter Vigil is celebrated.
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Thank you! – julie
“May you live all the days of your life.” J. Swift