King Cakes; purple, gold and yellow beads; parades; parties; and food.
Flashing is optional and totally unnecessary. See the FAQs about Mardi Gras here. (Seriously, keep all the baring of body parts limited to your Significant Other.)
So what is all the hoopla about Mardis Gras if you're not goint go New Orleans? (And if you are going to N'awlins, here's a website you'll want to check out: http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/mardi-gras-2013.html )
Well, Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French, although some would argue it means "Eat. Drink. And Be Merry!" Wikipedia explains it plainly: Mardi Gras refers "to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday."
So even this debauchery/fun/fantasy has its roots
- in religion. It's the opposite of the "fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent." As Wikipedia says, "The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial" for the Easter season.
- in paganism and the spring/fertility celebrations.
- in Roman wine and debauchery celebrations.
Do you celebrate Mardis Gras? Do you observe Lent? Which parts? Why?
See the National Geographic Q&A's for more.