When most people think of Mardi Gras, one of their first thoughts would likely be partying. Don’t get me wrong, these festivities have certainly earned this reputation. But that’s not the only thing Mardi Gras represents. The vast traditions that are so deeply rooted in New Orleans culture are usually based around religious belief. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, typically known as the last day of Mardi Gras. The Carnival is a series of festivities and traditions, beginning with the Feasts of Epiphany (Three Kings Day). Fat Tuesday got its name with the practical purpose of it being the last day you could eat rich foods, as the next day would be Ash Wednesday; the fasting of Lent would begin. Fat Tuesday was the culmination of all of the Carnival’s festivities. Millions of Christians all around the world spend the next 46 days practicing many traditions leading up to Easter. Lent is the season of conversion, with the principal of showing the Lord their devotion to their rules.
The most popular tradition seeming to be the giving something up that can be considered a sin. Most Catholics of my mother’s age would remember giving up candy; which suggests the beginning of the Easter basket was the reward the child received at the end of Lent. Others may recall saving all of their candy in a basket throughout lent, and having their reward on Easter morning. The one tradition I really remember standing out more than any other was refraining from meat on Fridays during Lent. According to Pope Peter of Alexandria, this practice is done in commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus. Thinking back to my childhood, the one thing I remember about this was wondering why we couldn’t eat meat but could eat seafood?