Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Musings on Mardi Gras


Wandering Coyotes' post about traditional serving of pancakes on Feb. 20th, got my curiousity going about more Mardi Gras traditions.

Usually Wikipedia is a great source, but all I could find was mostly on New Orleans Mardi Gras. Southern tradition here has it that Mardi Gras started in Mobile. Well, whatever. I think it has something to do with Catholicism, maybe there are Catholics out there that could enlighten me?

I found these old photos on Wikipedia. The fully clothed ladies with the whips are a far cry from the breast exposing babes of today's Mardi Gras. The whips were used to fend off unwelcome advances. (Must have been pretty wild even back then.)

We love to get our King Cake in Mardi Gras season. These are brightly colored almost sweet-rollish circles with a plastic baby baked into them. The person that gets the baby in their piece of King Cake is supposedly going to have good luck for the rest of the year.

It was interesting to note that the encyclopedia said the City of New Orleans is bankrupt and could not put lots of money into the parades and celebrations, so this is the first year that corporate sponsors were sought after.

Wikipedia also stated that Mardi Gras was introduced to New Orleans by the French. If that is so, then my next question to my Canadian friends is - are you guys celebrating with parades, etc.? Has the southern U.S. tradition of Mardi Gras been altered and assimilated into other customs? Anyone know?

Ah, sad New Orleans! I have to make a trip before too long - before the heat rises along with the humidity - and see her. One of my friends gathered some ladies together and they traveled over there, but it was a sobering event rather than the fun they expected. Well, we are STILL digging out of Ivan over here, still putting things back together - it will take the grand ol' dame of New Orleans years and years I fear.

13 comments:

ldbug said...

Mardi Gras originated from being the last day to "sin" before ash Wednesday. Also known as Fat Tuesday. Basically, you go a bit nuts eating all the chocolate and drinking all the alcohol you can hold before giving it all up to fast until Easter.

Can't believe I missed it this year! I guess it's b/c I'm back in the North. Just not as big a deal as down there.

Lee said...

I was in N.O. for Mardi Gras with my parents when I was but a wee lass. All I remember was being scared and seeing a lot of butts, being at eye/butt level.

Candy Minx said...

Gardenia, lovely post!

Well as for genral parades around now in Cananda, no not so much. But in Little Italy and Little Portugal in Toronto area...there are parades and rituals for so many things I've long lost track. It is not uncommon in Little Italy to hear some noise and look out the window and see a small march with the cathedral...some saints day or family mounring.

I left a short note for you over at Wandering Coyote, because you said you weren't sure about the link between Jesus and food.

I have one word for you: transubstaniation.

Love ya girl, cool post...it would be interesting to off spin it into the concept/experience of transubstantiation...I might have to work on that ha :)

Gardenia said...

candy minx, ohhhhhhhhh, duh! transubstantiation - and I went to Bible College - duh, duh, duh. (But not Catholic) I would be interested to see what conclusions you come to!

Catholicism teaches communion bread is the, or becomes the actual body of Christ I believe.

My personal belief, tainted with protestant-ism, is that Jesus usually spoke in parables, and when he said, "This is my body, broken...." that He meant as part of our remembrance of him is communion and we are to remember that His body was broken for us and His blood shed for us - when we take communion, not necessarily that we were actually eating his body. I have a friend who converted to Catholicism - she probably would love to comment - hattigrace? Where are you?

....and He did recommend fasting in certain cases - especially for casting out of difficult demonic entities....

....and he was often breaking bread (or eating with people) as part of his getting to know them and being with them.

Then consider the story of the loaves and fishes multiplying and He was a cool guy to keep around parties when the wine ran dry!

Along with the transubstantiation it might be interesting to go deeper into the abstaining of certain foods - perhaps that is the concept of fasting, or partial fasts. Ha, a whole body of research on Jesus and food!

lee - I often think of the butt view - especially when getting on crowded elevators - poor kids!

ldbug - ah hah! kinda like binging before going on a diet type thing? No, M G is not a big thing in the North - that I find interesting.

mister anchovy said...

Although this wasn't part of my Polish-Canadian family tradition, I read in the novel The Clarinet Polka about a pre-Lent tradition called the paske ball. Paske is the name of those chewy Polish yeast donuts that are usually filled with prunes or other jam like stuff. The paske ball happens just before Lent...everyone brings their baking to the church. Alcohol and polka dancing are both involved. Same deal as Fat Tuesday...then the fasting starts.

Pickled Olives said...

All I know is that you fast today and give up something for what seems n eternity. Oh you eat Fish for disnner on Friday nights.

hattigrace said...

I have to admit, I do not get Mardi Gras, though I am Catholic. I do get Lent and it started today. A season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Go to www.wau.org for meditations on Lent.

hattigrace said...

Transubstantiation is fabulous place to exercise FAITH. Jesus did NOT say, "This is a symbol of My body." John 6:22--65 is His discourse on the imperative that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood (not the symbol, but the actual) to have eternal life. A journey into church history, back to the first several centuries will validate that the early Church practiced transubstantiation.

Gardenia said...

I'm learning all sorts of things - ah, and I believe I would enjoy a paske right now as well. Well, back to the study books...

Lee said...

I grew up Catholic. I find it much more amusing to translate Jesus as promoting cannabalism.

Wandering Coyote said...

My pancakes were awesome. The King Cake sounds like a cool tradition.

Ya Think? said...

I had this too Gardenia... That Madi Gras started in Mobile. Next year I will have my Madi Gras Masks ready!! At least a hundred or so of them if I work hard at it.

Those are great pics on Wikipedia!!

Biddie said...

Hi, Gardenia! I have tried to send you and email, but it keeps coming up undeliverable. I'll keep trying...