On this day, the celebration of Mardi Gras begins with a giant celebration in New Orleans. Many saw this as a day of fun and freedom from social rules and restrictions and without knowing the significance of this holiday, joined in the celebration.
Currently Mardi Gras celebrations will go on from today until well into April. Then in the Fall, there will be another round of celebrations calling themselves Mardi Gras.
Like any holiday, we have commercialized it to the point where it’s original meaning has been forgotten.
Mardi Gras, coincides with Carnival celebrations in Brazil. The idea behind the holiday, in the Christian era is to have one last day of fun before the Lenten season begins. Lent is the remembrance of the forty days that Jesus fasted in the Christian tradition.
Ash Wednesday, (the day after Mardi Gras) marks day one of forty days before the celebration of Easter. So the day following Mardi Gras is traditionally the start of a forty day period of personal sacrifice, usually a fast, but in modern days it might be a giving up of something such as sugar or cigarettes.
The original holiday, was most likely a pagan festival to welcome Spring. After months of staying inside and struggling to stay warm, the first blooms and chirping of birds was seen as a welcome blessing and reason to celebrate.
In pagan times, the goddess of Spring would need to be honored so that she would continue to warm the Earth. In the days of the Roman Empire, Lupercalia was celebrated to honor the coming of Spring and purify the Earth. This may be how Mardi Gras and Lent came to be associated.
Unlike Christmas, you unlikely to be judged as to how you celebrate this holiday, (or if you do).
If you want to connect with the original pagan holidays, you can use this as a time to plan your garden, take a nature walk or light a candle and meditate on the new light and life that is coming to the planet. You can participate in the tradition of “spring cleaning” sacrificing your time and labor to “make sacred” your home and spaces that you occupy.
If you want to repurpose or reconnect with the Christian traditions, you can enjoy this day as you decide on what you will give up to improve your life, health and spirit. You may choose to give up or lighten up your meat consumption as is traditional, or give up bread or alcohol, or sacrifice your time to start a regular meditation practice.
Whatever you choose make it something meaningful that brings positive energy to you. Pouting or complaining about the celebrations of others will do little to raise your vibration.
Create the tradition that resonates best with you and enjoy the longer, warmer days that are coming.
Have a safe and happy Mardi Gras.