Magazine article U.S. Catholic

It's Mardi Gras Time!

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

It's Mardi Gras Time!

Article excerpt

This year Mardi Gras is February 28, the fat and festive Tuesday immediately preceding the abstemious and austere Ash Wednesday that begins the holy season of Lent. Celebrations this year in New Orleans, abbreviated but not abandoned, will culminate on Fat Tuesday, of course, and all eyes in America will focus yet again on what's left of New Orleans as the town pulls itself together for the 2006 celebrations.

Before Katrina, New Orleans' Mardi Gras was all about conspicuous excess. Beads, doubloons, and trinkets galore tossed from ornate floats by festooned and costumed people made most other parades pale by comparison. Hordes of faithful who made the pilgrimage to New Orleans and lined the processional routes reached toward the heavens to snag some of the many and varied relics of Mardi Gras.

Many revelers find it hard to believe this celebration has significant religious roots. Others sing out loud and clear, "Give Me That Old Time Religion!" The origin of Mardi Gras, like so many other things religious, is shrouded in mystery and mystique. But one thing we know for sure: It was a prelude to the beginning of Lent that has through the centuries moved from delightful to debaucherous.

In the 15th century some church officials worked hard to suppress these celebrations. They thought Mardi Gras had gotten out of hand. …

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