Another Take on Mardi Gras

Here are few more thoughts on the significance of Mardi Gras:

In France, the period of revelry before Lent is known to be especially raucous. The term Mardi Gras is a French expression meaning “Fat Tuesday” — referring to the indulgent nature of the pre-Lenten celebration. The name may have been more than just allegorical, however. Ancient pagans often marked their fertility ritual by parading a fattened ox through the town before sacrificing it.

It was also the French who brought the celebration to America. Many historians believe the party crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1699, on the ship of a French explorer named Sieur d’Iberville. The Frenchman landed in what is today Louisiana, just south of New Orleans, the heart of America’s modern-day Mardi Gras celebrations. In fact, his landing is believed to have coincided with the French celebration of Mardi Gras, explaining his choice of name for his point of entry: Point du Mardi Gras.

Other historians, however, dispute the d’Iberville connection, contending that it was the early French settlers to Louisiana who introduced Mardi Gras to America. Regardless of the precise origin, Mardi Gras can clearly be attributed to a Franco-influence. By the mid 1820s, Mardi Gras was firmly rooted in the New Orleans culture. Today, the city’s celebrations are considered one of America’s biggest parties, with towns and cities throughout the Gulf Coast Region getting in on the fun.

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