Let's Stop Thinking That Mardi Gras Is All About Naked Women

Let's Stop Thinking That Mardi Gras Is All About Naked Women

No, it's not just about beads, boobs, and booze. And yes, the "S" is silent.

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Everytime someone finds out I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana, the city home to Mardi Gras, they ask me if I've ever seen women flashing float riders for beads. I usually chuckle and say, "Every parade has its own environment. Some are more prone to that behavior, but others are more wholesome." And then I somehow start getting into the history of the carnival season, Mardi Gras Day, and everything that surrounds it, and their eyes start to glaze over. That's the most disappointing part of the interaction. So for those that believe they know what Mardi Gras is about, let's get into what the true meaning is- both from me and from friends and family that still call Louisiana "home".

Carnival is the season while Mardi Gras is a day.

I've heard it time and time again: "I'm going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras!" What they really mean is that they're going to New Orleans for the weekend before Mardi Gras to see parades. This isn't wrong, but technically, "Mardi Gras" is the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. This year, it falls on March 5th and is always completely determined by the date of Easter. (I'll get into this more in a minute.)

The carnival season starts on January 6th. No matter what. Period.

Carnival season starts 12 days after Christmas day, on the Epiphany, and is the official end of the holiday season. The Epiphany marks a visit to baby Jesus by the three Kings or the Wise Men. This is why the Epiphany, January 6th, is the Feast Day of the Wise Men. Historically, this day would be as big of a celebration as Christmas day. (A Feast day is a day set aside to remember important people and events throughout the history of the Catholic faith.)

Carnival season was about eating as much as you could.

Carnival season runs from January 6th to the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras, because Ash Wednesday is the day that Lent begins. Lent was historically a time for fasting within the Catholic faith. Catholics used to fast for forty days and forty nights; from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This is why the day before lent is called "Mardi Gras." Mardi Gras literally means "Fat Tuesday," and the day before Mardi Gras is "Lundi Gras" or "Fat Monday." So Carnival season was a time to fill up as much as possible- and then some. Like more than Thanksgiving. This was weeks and weeks of eating and celebrating. Talk about having to unbutton your pants after a meal.

King Cakes are more than just "a cake with a baby."

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. A King Cake is an oval-shaped cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry. It's decorated in royal colors of purple, green, and gold, which signify "justice," "faith," and "power." These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown, honoring the Wise Men who visited Jesus on the Epiphany. In the past, things like coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake. Today, a plastic baby is placed underneath the cake as an ode to the visitation of baby Jesus. The person that receives the piece with the baby is named "King" for the day and is supposed to provide the next King Cake.

Mardi Gras is sooo much more than just New Orleans.

When people hear "Mardi Gras" they normally think of New Orleans. But think again. Mardi Gras happens all across the state of Louisiana, and even the world. The city of Lafayette, just two hours west of New Orleans, has Cajun Mardi Gras, while the capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, has a Mardi Gras ball. There's even a family-friendly Mardi Gras in Alexandria and Lake Charles. Mardi Gras is also celebrated in many locations in Europe, and Brazil is found to have massive celebrations every year!

Mardi Gras is NOT about naked women.

I asked two of my Louisiana-born friends, "What is something you'd want tourists to know about Mardi Gras?" Here are their answers:

"I think Mardi Gras is a time of year where everyone gets along. Even though most people think Mardi Gras can be wild and crazy, and it can be, [but] when you're at a parade, everyone just seems to be all fun and games and neighboring groups of people interact with each other. I think if you're at Mardi Gras with a good group of people, it's sure to be an amazing time." -Jamilynne Johnson, a native resident of Slidell, LA

"I would say that parades are actually more family-oriented than people believe, especially the day[time] parades. Mardi Gras for some people is as big of a holiday as Christmas. It is a holiday centered around joy, laughter, and family. Some people go to the same parade, sit in the same spot, and talk to the same people every year. Mardi Gras is a way to bring the community together because the best part of the parade is not the floats, it's the half-a-day you spent waiting for the floats. It's a season where everyone can forget about their troubles, spend time with their families, and make memories that will last a lifetime. What I would say to people is that Mardi Gras is not about who caught the coolest beads or the most stuffed animals, it's about dancing with strangers, eating amazing food, and hearing the same story from your grandpa that you've heard a million times. The people who celebrate Mardi Gras know that it's not what you catch at the parades, it's who you're catching stuff with." -Payton Haddican, a native resident of New Orleans, LA

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22 Signs You're a Region Rat

Close enough to Chicago to claim it yet still maintain our own identity
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You can take someone out of the Region, but you can't take the Region out of someone. In a mysterious way, it always seems to bring you back. You have to admit to having pride a little bit of pride relating to at least one of these instances.

1. Being called a "rat" is a compliment, not an insult.

2. You're not even phased when a camel's walking down the middle of the street.


(The language may be a bit much, but what else would you expect from the Region?)

3. You never called Southlake "Westfield" when it changed ownerships. TG it's Southlake, again.

4. There's no better greeting than the sweet smell of the BP oil refineries in Whiting or the steel mills in Gary.

5. You call the expressways by their number, not their name.


"Which is better to avoid Chicago traffic, 80/94 or 90?"

6. Also, yes it is "expressway." It's not "freeway" or "highway." Don't bother arguing.

7. You see more Illinois license plates at gas stations, liquor stores, and cigarette places in the Region than actually in Illinois.

8. It's a sin if you haven't been to Pierogi Fest in a while. It's a greater sin if you've never been to Pierogi Fest.


How can you live with yourself turning down the opportunity to hang out with Mr. Pierogi, Miss Paczki, and the Babushka Brigade?!

9. Pretty much anywhere south of Highland (aka Munster, Schererville, St. John, Dyer, etc.) is considered very fancy.

10. Whenever introducing yourself to new people, you say you're from Chicago just so you can avoid "wait, where is *insert Region city/town* again?"

11. People telling you that you have a Chicago accent and Chicagoans vehemently disagreeing with them.

12. Getting a grimacing look from people when you say your hometown isn't that far from Gary.

13. Lake Central should be its own town with how many kids go there. Seriously.

14. You know how Lincoln's and Miner Dunn are underrated gold mines when it comes to good food.

15. You ride or die with Chicago sports — Bulls, Hawks, Cubs, Sox. If not, you may be ostracized (you probably will).


Even staying loyal to Da Bears because 1985 will always be da best. (There's still a sliver of hope).

16. St. Thomas More and/or SJE always dominated the CYO Christmas tournament during basketball season. Actually, they pretty much dominated in any sport.

17. No other area has anything on our alcohol tolerance. Not a thing.

18. Getting our sources of information from NWI Gazette instead of NWI Times.

19. Following @RegionRatRants never fails to make you laugh, then cry with its accuracy.


One minute it's hilarious for how true it is, the next it's shame for how true it is.

20. By the time the Cline exit off of Calumet gets fixed, hell would have frozen over and it'll be the 12th of never.

21. Your heart breaks a little bit every time Munster Donut is closed because someone drove into it. Again.


This is why we can't have nice things.

22. No matter how much you look forward to leaving, it'll always be home to you as "Chicago's little sibling."

Cover Image Credit: AA Roads

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What Are Snow Days Anyways?

Especially in Maine, they don't exist.

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I have grown up in New England my entire life, and anyone who knows New England weather knows that one day it will be 50 and sunny and the next we will have 3 feet of snow. There is not a happy medium, in between. But snow days have drastically changed over the years especially as I moved from Connecticut to Maine for school.

As a kiddo, I loved snow days, playing in the snow and then having a big ole cup of hot chocolate all cuddled up under the fuzziest of blankets. They were amazing. No worries, no school just a fun day at home.

But then, I got older.

And moved, to one of the snowiest places in the country.

The snow days became scarcer and scarcer. And we get a lot of snow up here in Maine. But there is no point in canceling school for 5 inches of snow when "everyone" knows how to deal with it up here. So classes are rarely canceled.

Sometimes, I really really miss the snow. And coming for me that's saying something because I really am not a fan of the snow, in any way shape or form. It may not be the snow itself that I miss but the break. Having a day off to regroup and reorganize and catch up or whatever is needed.

That's what I miss.

"Mental Health Days" are super super important. They help you keep your sanity. They keep you from feeling overwhelmed and stressed. They prevent injuries and illness whether it be from a virus or just emotional stress and draining. Mental health days are good for so many more reasons too.

And plus sometimes, YOU JUST NEED A DAMN DAY!

But as I get further into my college career, while I missed the snow days and the mental health days more than ever, I also really didn't want to have a snow day. Weird right? At first, I was just thinking that I was going crazy. Because who wouldn't want a day off, especially a full-time student who is also working full time.

Me!

This is why I knew that if we had a snow day I would still have work to do. My professors would most likely just make me responsible for the material missed and let's be honest who actually sits down and thoroughly covers the material missed. And I can't ask questions from the comfort of my bed.

But in reality this last snow storm, I didn't want the snow day for completely selfish reasons. If we had a snow day on Wednesday, my exam would be moved to Friday. And then I would have two back to back exams in my hardest classes on a Friday morning. Yes, it would give me more time to study but like then I will over study for one and not study enough for the other.

So I'm being selfish!

And my friends think I am totally insane and ruining their chances of a day off. BUT I DON'T CARE.

It is okay to be a little selfish every now and again. Take the time for YOU! Do what is best for you and think whatever makes you happy. Stop worrying about everyone else, for every second of every day and

TAKE CARE OF YOU!

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