Mardi Gras Essay, Research Paper
It s marvelous, magical, mirthful, magnificent. It s Mardi Gras. After Christmas each
year, the people of southern Louisiana begin their celebration of Carnival, an exuberant
explosion of parades and parties that reaches its grand climax on Mardi Gras.
Many people think that Mardi Gras is just another name for Carnival, but the terms have
different meanings. Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday , refers to only one day.
Carnival, on the other hand, refers to the entire period from Twelfth Night (January 6) until
midnight on Mardi Gras. Because Mardi Gras comes exactly forty-six days before Easter, it can
fall on any Tuesday from February 3 to March 9. This year it is on February 11.
Mardi Gras is not just something to watch, it s something to be part of. You can pretend
to be someone different and live a fantasy for a day. It s a time for children and grown-ups
alike. An entire family can dress crazy and not stand out in a crowd. It s a time for people of all
ages, races, and religions to come together in a spirit of goodwill.
When people celebrate Mardi Gras, they are carrying on a tradition that dates back to
ancient times. Spring festivals were held to ensure the fertility of animals and crops. Mardi
Gras came to America when some hardy French explorers landed near the mouth of the
Mississippi River in 1699. Their leader, Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d Iberville, noticed that it was
March 3. Back home, people were celebrating Mardi Gras, so he named the spot Pointe du
Mardi Gras in honor of the day.
By the time Spain took possession of Louisiana in 1766, Mardi Gras was an established
tradition . But the Spanish banned the custom of wearing masks on the street, and Mardi Gras
was driven indoors where it was celebrated privately by the Creoles (the descendants of early
French and Spanish settlers).
In 1803, two years after taking it back from Spain, France sold Louisiana to the United
States. The Americans...