Mardi Gras is Here!

By: Samuel Ennis

FAC Intern – Saint Anselm College

Mardi Gras is Here!! Did you know that in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a legal Holiday? In fact, it is the only state in the U.S. to declare it a legal holiday. That does not stop people all around the world, the U.S., and especially New Hampshire from celebrating this French holiday.

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday has been traced to ancient holidays in Rome and Venice. However, in the 17th and 18th century, it passed to the French House of the Bourbons and quickly spread to French colonies. The holiday, as it is celebrated in the U.S., dates back to 1699, when French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived south of New Orleans in an area today known as Mobile, Alabama. He arrived on the eve of the holiday and prepared a celebration to occur the following day. The holiday was to celebrate the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent would begin. Giving something up for Lent is custom, and it was typical for people to give up rich and fatty foods like meat, eggs, milk, lard, and cheese. Knowing they would be without one of these items for the next 40 days, they had an elaborate celebration full of treats using these items. The holiday grew during the 1700s and 1800s adding masquerade balls, parades, carnivals, grand floats, and the throwing of beads to what many know today. When Louisiana went from French control to territory to U.S. State, the celebration of Mardi Gras defined its identity with people embracing it as a French custom.

For those of you not in New Orleans for the celebration, New England boasts many events as well during the month of March. Magic Hat Brewery in Burlington, VT hosts a festival during the end of March. Countless restaurants and bars in Boston such as Buttermilk and Bourbon host events as well. Rhode Island and Connecticut have their own events. The Franco-American Centre hosted a celebration and masquerade ball on Saturday, March 2, 2019, at Jupiter Hall in Manchester with Cajun food from Madear’s. The night was a blast and a great time to meet other members of the FAC and celebrate the festive holiday.

Be sure to show off your new knowledge of the holiday as you celebrate this March with the official slogan Laissez les bons temps rouler or in English, “let the good times roll.”