It’s Mardi Gras, MotherF*%#er!

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IMG_1792Today is Mardi Gras!

For those of you who don’t know, Mardi Gras is the French term for the time of celebration on the day before Ash Wednesday. The English term is Fat Tuesday. Ash Wednesday (in the Catholic church, at least…I don’t know much about other Christian faiths) is the beginning of Lent, a period of 40 days of fasting and penance prior to Easter. So the idea is that one goes out on Mardi Gras and has fun eating and drinking and doing all the decadent things one will then give up the next day for Lent.

The term “Mardi Gras” can also be used to describe the entire season starting on January 6th (also known as Twelfth Night or the Twelfth Day of Christmas) and ending at the stroke of midnight when Fat Tuesday becomes Ash Wednesday. This period of parades, King Cakes, and partying is also (and more accurately) known as Carnival season or Carnival time.

Sometimes people think that Mardi Gras day kicks off the Carnival season. That is absolutely wrong! If you arrive in New Orleans (or Rio, for that matter) on Mardi Gras day and think you are in for a few days of partying, you will be sorely disappointed. In New Orleans (in the 90s at least, but I suspect it’s still the case), when the clock struck midnight and it was officially Ash Wednesday, the cops would herd everyone out of the French Quarter streets. People could still hang out in bars, but the public partying was over.

So Mardi Gras is a day, (always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) and Carnival is a season. Got it? (I’m being technical here. The terms “Mardi Gras” and “Carnival” are in reality used interchangeably, but I think it’s important to know the distinction between the two.)

If you can’t be in New Orleans today, but you’re wondering what’s happening down on Bourbon Street, check out the Mardi Gras EarthCam. The camera is mounted on the corner of St. Peter and Bourbon Streets. When I checked it out on Saturday (2-14-15) morning, it was all still pretty tame, but folks were strolling past, and there was a Lucky Dog vendor across the street. (If you don’t know what a Lucky Dog is, look here: http://www.luckydogs.us/ or read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.)

I mentioned King Cakes, and probably not everyone reading this knows what they are. King Cakes are pastries eaten exclusively during Carnival season. If you make your own, you can eat one whenever you want, I suppose, but that would be sort of like eating fruitcake in June just because you like the taste. And perhaps in this age of internet ordering it may be possible to buy a King Cake at any time of the year. But I’m telling ya, you’re flying in the face of the spirit of Mardi Gras to eat them outside of Carnival season.

Traditionally, King Cakes are kind of like coffee cakes with a cinnamon-y filling and decorated with (sometimes) white icing and (always) purple, green, and gold sugar sprinkles. (I must admit, at the risk of losing any New Orleans cred I may have left, I have never much enjoyed traditional King Cakes. They’re too dry and not sweet enough for me.) Of course, these days, one can buy King Cakes with all sorts of delicious fruit and/or cream cheese fillings. (These newfangled King Cakes I like quite a bit.) One of my family members makes King Cakes with frozen crescent rolls for the dough, then fills them with cream cheese and pie filling. I know they’re not traditional, but they are sooooo delicious.

The really important part of a King Cake is the baby. The King Cake baby is made of plastic and is tucked into the cake, usually from underneath. I’ve read that the baby represents the Christ Child. What it definitely represents is the person who has to provide the next King Cake. Here’s how it works…People gather in the office break room or at a King Cake party and everyone has a slice of the King Cake. The person who finds the baby in his/her slice is expected to bring the next King Cake to work for everyone to enjoy or to host the next King Cake party. (No fair waiting until next Carnival season. Everyone wants the next King Cake soon.) So while it’s an honor to find the baby, it’s also an obligation. (And yes, maybe it is a little bit dangerous to have a small plastic object hanging out in your pastry, but everyone knows it’s there and is being careful not to swallow it. Although anyone who’s gotten the baby and hasn’t wanted to buy a cake has considered gulping it down.) (To learn more than you ever thought you wanted to know about this topic, check out Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cake.)

I’m probably not going to do anything to celebrate Mardi Gras this year. What’s the poiIMG_1831nt if I can’t get drunk and get laid? Since I’m no longer 24 years old and not likely to pull off the celebration I want, I’ll just stay home.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

I took the photos in this post.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

0 Responses »

  1. The only time I really feel the missing of Louisiana. Occasionally I miss New Orleans, but at Mardi Gras time I allow the (w)hole state in. Even those freaks chasing chickens in the Courir.

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