Mardi Gras: A Party with Religious Roots Published on February 08, 2016 Every February, the Big Easy is inundated by nearly one million people. The city of New Orleans spends over $3 million getting ready for these travelers. Over the course of twelve days, hotels on Bourbon Street increase their prices by more than double. There are more than 60 parades and the city is adorned in purple, green, and gold. Even Hurrican Katrina failed to prevent this celebration that has only been canceled on 13 occasions in over 150 years. What is this magical, mystical, mysterious celebration?Mardi Gras.College students, couples, and even families flock to NOLA each year to celebrate good ole’ Fat Tuesday. Together, they consume millions of dollars in alcohol and create over $10 million in revenue for New Orleans’ local business owners. When everyone finally goes home, they leave the city caked in plastic cups and sparkly beads. Everyone knows this custom, most people love it, and some people live for it; but do you think when they get home, nurse their wounds, and go through the embarrassing, entertaining, and forgotten photos on their phone they stop and think:Hey, this is a religious holiday?Many Catholics love their celebrations, their festivals, their feast days. And Mardi Gras is no exception. Each year, six-and-a-half weeks before Easter, members of the Catholic faith flock to church to have a cross of ashes placed on their foreheads and decide what pleasure they are going to give up for the season of Lent.But right before that, the entire Tuesday before that, and for some the entire month before that…they indulge. Surrendering chocolate for Lent? Devour it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the day before. Abandoning alcohol? Drink it up on Fat Tuesday. Abandoning TV? Stay up all night on Mardi Gras. Ah, it’s a age-old tradition.Traditionally, Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Fasting being key, hence people forgo a pleasure. A long time ago, in the days prior to Lent, observers would eat all their meat, eggs, and dairy foods in preparation of only consuming fish and fasting. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday, the day people indulged, grew to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”True to fashion, America took the celebration to the next level. Many historians report the original Mardi Gras in American took place in the late 1600s in Louisiana, south of New Orleans. The celebration was initially small and eventually grew to include grand balls and splendid dinners. When Spain took control of New Orleans, they outlawed the rituals and the ban remained until 1812 when Louisiana became a U.S. state. The initial Mardi Gras parade took place in 1837 in New Orleans and 38 years later Governor Warmoth officially made Mardi Gras a legal holiday in Louisiana, thus creating Mardi Gras as the holiday we know today. Whether you commemorate Mardi Gras because you’re religious or because it’s awesome, enjoy your Fat Tuesday and remember to be safe . For those of you celebrating because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, have a blessed season of Lent. Happy Mardis Gras from all your friends at Barlow Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning!