Mardi Gras

Written by Alana Jolley

March 3, 2014

Mardi Gras

The Bacchus Parade, for Mardi Gras was held on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

Mardi Gras parades start in February, in New Orleans, but Mardi Gras, or “fat Tuesday,” is actually the first Tuesday in March, the day before Ash Wednesday, when Catholic Lent begins.

The origin of the word lent is from lencten, an old Anglo-Saxon word associated with springtime.  It is also associated with the celebration of ancient Greek and Roman fertility rites honoring Bacchus, the god of wine and vegetation.  How did the two become culturally connected?

Bacchus celebrants were asked to give up eating meat and to dispose of old stored fat. When Christianity became the state religion of Rome, the Church needed its holy days to coincide with local pagan festivals.  Therefore, Lent began the day after Bacchanalia. Lent lasts for 40 days, associated with the 40 days Christ fasted in the wilderness before his baptism.

Explore More! in Cultural Anthropology.  Learn about cultural rituals and celebrations and how they came about.  Learn about the Global Villages and the people that live in them.


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