Cajun Mardi Gras – Feast Before Feast

Cajun Mardi Gras: Feast Before Fast

Music; Ambience: Mardi Gras song, Elton Run

All this week, Cajun communities in Southern Louisiana are preparing to celebrate their version of Mardi Gras, a holiday with ancient cultural roots. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Barry Ancelet is a professor of French and Folklore at the University of Louisiana. He says there are a number of reasons why Mardi Gras occurs at this time of the year.

Ambience: chicken squawk

“It is a a holiday that’s part of the Catholic liturgical calendar. It occurs on the day right before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of a forty day period of fasting called Lent, which takes us to Easter. But, there were older practices that even preceded Christianity in Europe that were already very similar to what we now see happening in the Mardi Gras. It’s no accident, for example, that this period of institutionalized fasting occurs at the very end of winter when the stores of food would have ordinarily been dwindling to the point where everybody was going to have to make due with what was left. And, a good way to make sure that everybody fasts together, that nobody cheats, is to get everybody to feast together right before then because it creates a a sense of solidarity. And so, in pre-Christian Europe there were already practices like this. Also, what we now call Mardi Gras seems to be a reflection of a cultural rituals that had to do with celebrating the death and rebirth of nature. People show up at your house and they’re singing and dancing, and laughing and playing tricks with you in an otherwise pretty bleak time of year. People in brightly colored costumes climb in bare trees. They become essentially living blossoms.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Cajun Mardi Gras - Feast Before Feast

Mardi Gras is a holiday with its roots in ancient European traditions. There are good reasons why it happens at this time of year.
Air Date:02/11/2013
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Transcript:

Cajun Mardi Gras: Feast Before Fast

Music; Ambience: Mardi Gras song, Elton Run

All this week, Cajun communities in Southern Louisiana are preparing to celebrate their version of Mardi Gras, a holiday with ancient cultural roots. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Barry Ancelet is a professor of French and Folklore at the University of Louisiana. He says there are a number of reasons why Mardi Gras occurs at this time of the year.

Ambience: chicken squawk

"It is a a holiday that's part of the Catholic liturgical calendar. It occurs on the day right before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of a forty day period of fasting called Lent, which takes us to Easter. But, there were older practices that even preceded Christianity in Europe that were already very similar to what we now see happening in the Mardi Gras. It's no accident, for example, that this period of institutionalized fasting occurs at the very end of winter when the stores of food would have ordinarily been dwindling to the point where everybody was going to have to make due with what was left. And, a good way to make sure that everybody fasts together, that nobody cheats, is to get everybody to feast together right before then because it creates a a sense of solidarity. And so, in pre-Christian Europe there were already practices like this. Also, what we now call Mardi Gras seems to be a reflection of a cultural rituals that had to do with celebrating the death and rebirth of nature. People show up at your house and they're singing and dancing, and laughing and playing tricks with you in an otherwise pretty bleak time of year. People in brightly colored costumes climb in bare trees. They become essentially living blossoms.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.