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 invests over $3 million planning for their guests. Over the course of twelve days, hotels on Bourbon Street increase their rates by more than double. There are more than 50 parades and the city is adorned in purple, green, and gold. Not even Hurricane Katrina could prevent this celebration that has only been canceled 13 times in over 150 years. What is this magical, mystical, marvelous celebration?Mardi Gras.College students, couples, and even families swarm NOLA each year to celebrate good ole’ Fat Tuesday. Together, they consume millions of dollars in alcohol and generate over $10 million in revenue for New Orleans’ local business owners. When everyone finally disembarks, they leave the city cluttered with plastic cups and colorful beads. Everyone is aware of this tradition, most people love it, and some people live for it; but do you imagine when they get home, treat their wounds, and look through the shameful, hilarious, and forgotten photos on their phone they stop and think:Hey, this is a religious holiday?Many Catholics enjoy their celebrations, their festivals, their feast days. And Mardi Gras is no exception. Each year, 46 days before Easter, followers of the Catholic faith fill churches to have a cross of ashes marked on their foreheads and choose what pleasure they are going to give up for the season of Lent.But before that, the entire 24 hours before that, and for some the entire month before that…they indulge. Giving up chocolate for Lent? Devour it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the day before. Abandoning alcohol? Drink it up on Fat Tuesday. Abandoning TV? Watch 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 surrender something they enjoy. It used to be, in the days prior to Lent, observers would eat all their meat, eggs, cheese, and milk in preparation of only consuming fish and fasting. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday, the day people indulged, became known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”Naturally, America took the celebration and tailored it a bit. Many historians presume the initial Mardi Gras in American took place in Louisiana in that late 1600s, south of New Orleans. The celebration started small and eventually grew to include grand balls and splendid meals. When Spain took control of New Orleans, they outlawed the rituals and the ban stayed until 1812 when Louisiana became a U.S. state. The initial Mardi Gras parade was in 1837 in New Orleans and nearly four decades later Governor Warmoth officially made Mardi Gras a legal holiday in Louisiana, thus creating Mardi Gras as we know it today. Whether you celebrate Mardi Gras because you’re religious or because it’s awesome, enjoy your Fat Tuesday and always 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning!