Lots of loud mingling and revelry in the streets of New Orleans today in celebration of Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday"), the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
Take me down to Bourbon Street where "we won't go home till morning," said playwright John Baldwin Buckstone about the spirit of raucous fun.
The world's biggest party is the climax of two weeks of outrageous Carnival--costumes, parades, balls, processions, and more. Rex, King of Carnival, leads the elaborate parades as doubloons and plastic beads and other trinkets (throws)--lagnappes ("something extra")--are tossed to the crowds by masked krewe (parade clubs) members who ride the floats.
"Throw me sumtin' Mista!" is the popular cry from the partiers huddled on the streets and leaning over balconies exuberantly.
The colors of Mardi Gras are purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The celebration originated in France in the 1400s when villagers would parade a fat ox (boeuf) through the street, a symbol of the last meal before the Lenten fasting.
"You always feel fine on Mardi Gras," said clarinetist Pete Fountain.
The French brought the spirit of Mardi Gras to New Orleans in 1699 and the tradition has evolved into the dancing, drinking, and bawdy madness of today.
About such pandemonium, humorist Mark Twain once said, "When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
And, the words of wise Aristotle added even more justification, "No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness."
Let the good times roll...