ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Mardi Gras, the King Cake and the economy

Updated on February 18, 2009

A brief history of the annual party

 

Many people who are unfamiliar with the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration and whose only experience of the event is from television news articles showing revelers "gone wild" do not understand that this celebration is actually very historic and very much tied to religion. A good example of this is the King Cake.

The King Cake is a celebratory pastry honoring the Kings who came in search of the newborn King, Jesus. It is served any time during the Mardi Gras season at a King Cake Party. The cake itself may come in many forms, but the traditional cake starts with twisted strands of cinnamon dough formed into a circle. The twisted strands and circle represent the unity of faiths. The cake is iced and decorated with the three, Mardi Gras colors: Gold, Green and Purple. Gold is for power, Green is for faith and Purple is for justice. Also, baked somewhere deep inside of the cake is a small, plastic "baby" representing the Christ child. Eating the cake at the King Cake party recreates the search for the newborn Jesus and the lucky partygoer who finds the baby receives the honor of hosting next year’s King Cake Party.

Historically, the Christmas season lasted twelve "nights", as in the Shakespeare play, "The Twelfth Night". The twelve days of Christmas represented the twelve days it took the three kings to find the mother and child. The twelfth night is known as "Epiphany" and begins the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans which lasts, naturally, until Ash Wednesday when Lent begins.

Lent in English, is the forty-day period before Easter. The name derives from Greek "quadragesima" which means "the fortieth day". The name, preserved in other languages, is "cuaresma" in Spanish, "quaresma" in Portuguese, "careme" in French, and "quaresima" in Italian. The forty-day period is reserved for sacrifice, penance and cleansing before Easter. Religious people are expected to forego many of the day-to-day luxuries they take for granted throughout the year in their own, personal recreation of Christ’s suffering on the way to crucifixion. People naturally want to "live it up" before beginning the pre-Easter renewal and Mardi Gras is their chance.

Many historians believe that the Mardi Gras celebration is a hybrid celebration combining Roman Saturnalia with Christian Christmas/Easter activities. Others note that the partying and indulgence leading up to the forty days of Lent often involve people with no intent of repentance either before or after Easter, no religious affiliation of any kind and absolutely no plans for halting the party anytime in the near future. Visitors certainly can find the experience of Mardi Gras just about any night of the year on Bourbon Street, but, nonetheless, the religious ties do exist.

Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday", in 2009 is February 24 and right around the corner. If you have not already, now is a good time to plan a King Cake Party, celebrate the continuance of life, and think about some type of personal sacrifice for Lent. Whatever you do, it is nice to know and understand at least a little bit about the history of events. Although Mardi Gras is time for party and celebration, the period of Lent is a good time for introspection and renewal, by anyone, and, considering the continuing decline of the economy, America just may entering its own long, long period of Lent. Enjoy your King Cake!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)