Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, takes place the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the seventh Wednesday before Easter and the first day of Lent. The Mardi Gras celebration is best known in New Orleans in the United States. They celebrate with a huge carnival that includes parades, shows, parties and dressing in costumes. It's origins go back much farther though.

Pagan Origins

Mardi Gras (from the French words, meaning "fat Tuesday"), or Carnival (from the Latin words carn-caro levare, meaning "removal of flesh"), is a Christian festival that embodies many traditions that originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans--relating to their gods and religious festivals honoring spring fertility rites.

In the early Middle Ages, the Catholic Church was unable to abolish all of these ancient traditions after converting pagan tribes to Christianity. The Church was forced to adapt many ancient feasts and festivals, originally celebrated in honor of pagan gods, to Christian beliefs. Today, revelers on parade floats still don the regalia of the Greek god of wine, Bacchus, during Mardi Gras celebrations.

Mobile, Alabama---Home of the Original Mardi Gras Celebration

Mobile is not only recognized as celebrating the first-known American Mardi Gras celebration in 1703 (yes, even before New Orleans), but also as home to the "America's Family Mardi Gras" delighting both young and old from around town and across the nation. This magnificent celebration lasts for nearly two weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent.

For weeks, the streets of downtown Mobile are filled with the sights and sounds of live marching bands, brilliant-colored floats and of course teeming crowds of parade goers. The floats are glowing spectacles manned by masked riders festooned in satin and sequins, and armed with crowd-pleasing "throws" such as beads, moon pies, doubloons and candy. Mardi Gras must be experienced to be fully understood and Mobile is the perfect place.