bqvtwyKhNExjfBhcI_O-iw4SkkE Christian Resources: Mardi Gras: What is it?

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February 20, 2012

Mardi Gras: What is it?

Spanish Town Parade, Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge...
Image via Wikipedia

It is the time of the year when Mardi Gras is being celebrated. Here in Baton Rouge, LA, it is a holiday that many people celebrate with great zeal. I was not born or raised here in Baton Rouge, LA. I was born and raised in Mississippi. In that part of Mississippi, we do not really recognize Mardi Gras as a holiday that is greatly celebrated. I understand that on the Gulf Coast they do have some celebrations. I really did not understand the point of Mardi Gras. Therefore, I have done a little bit of research into the origins of Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras started out in Rome as a pagan celebration. Mardi Gras was originally called Lupercalia. Having never heard of that pagan celebration, I looked in an online encyclopedia  to find out information about the celebration.

According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., Lupercalia is an “ancient Roman festival held annually on Feb. 15. The ceremony of the festival was intended to secure fertility and keep out evil. Two male youths, clad in animal skin, ran around the city slapping passersby with strips of goat skin. Because the youths impersonated male goats (the embodiment of sexuality), the ceremony was believed to be in honor of Faunus . The festival survived into Christian times and was not abolished until the end of the 5th cent.”

Later when the Christians brought Christianity to Rome, they decided not to completely abolish all of the pagan rituals. This ritual was turned into a time of Pre-Lent celebration. The people would have carnival style fun before the day of Lent.

Later the French explorer, Iberville, brought the celebration of Mardi Gras to Louisiana when he came in 1699.

For more information on how the customs of Mardi came to be go to

After reading the information, I still do not understand why Christians celebrate Mardi Gras with such zeal. It really does not have any good spiritual signification in my opinion, because it started out as a fertility ritual to a pagan god. Also they changed it to a time of merry-making before that went into a time of abandonment. This abandonment is suppose to be a time of denying something that you really want in order to grow in your walk with God.

1. "Lupercalia." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2008. 20 Feb. 2012

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