An ethical guide to surviving Mardi Gras
Hello sweet tourist, how are you tonight? Planning your next little adventure I see—and oh! You’re wondering if Mardi Gras is what you’re looking for. Well, I ask you this: is Mardi Gras looking for you? Do you hold something deep and revelrous in your soul that yearns to break free? Are you one with the cosmic dance of the seasons? Are you prepared to open yourself to the season of indulgences (Carnival) lest you are not prepared for the season of solemnity and fasting(Lent)?
Examining your reasons for coming to Mardi Gras: Mardi Gras is a time of decadence, not debauchery. If you love costuming, Black American Music, Live Oak trees, and food that will change your life, please come!
Carnival or Fat Tuesday? Mardi Gras Parades have already started, do you come now or do you want to just come for Mardi Gras Day?
Choosing the right parade. There are lots and lots of parades, you can’t make it to them all so choose wisely.
Securing a hotel that is centrally located and safe. We recommend the French Quarter if you can afford it. Avoid Air B’n’Bs; they drive up rent for locals.
Bring cash and make a budget. Many smaller shops only take cash.
Be aware of your surroundings Anything can happen anywhere
Carnival is upon us, and you may be planning your adventure through New Orleans to catch the sights and sounds of this sensational tradition known as Mardi Gras. Whether your are a seasoned veteran or a first timer, a local or a visitor, there are always ways to deepen your experience of Carnival and fulfill your desires. This festive time of indulging and embracing ones carnal desires (Carnival means “lifting of the flesh”) is a practical measure to prepare the home and the body for a time of Lenten fasting. We have to rid our home of stores of sugar, flour and alcohol so we will not be tempted by them in the season to come. Mardi Gras day is our last hurrah before the season of abstinence moves in. Here’s a guide to making it count and making sure you don’t have to beg too much forgiveness when it’s all over.
The King Cake is a reminder that we owe it to ourselves and to each other to make occasion for feasts. If you find the baby Jesus asleep in your slice, this is a blessing on your house because you are now required to throw the next party!
despite the cold, despite the chill, despite the resolutions waiting for their resolve, this is a season of Yes. From Carnival Balls to back yard campfires this is the time to come together and to say yes. But you don’t have to push your limits. Carnival can last for three months, keep that candle lit and don’t burn out too early.
Through all of this indulging, you’ll start to stretch your understanding of self and you may even find new parts of yourself that you’d like to get to know better. Craft a costume with care and attention that you can wear with pride and that will provide just enough restriction that you have to keep it together and not fall apart. You can always hand craft throws—little totems or notes that honor the day and the particular theme or parade that resonates with you—and pass them out to revelers who catch your eye. This is a sure fire way to open yourself to the wondrous sights, sounds and connections that carnival provides.
Mardi Gras does not live on Bourbon street. It lives in the fingers of the expert bead artists who craft the magnificent suits that adorn the Black Masking Indians who are the first to greet Mardi Gras morning with all the reverence and revelry it demands. It lives in the bells of the brass instruments that blow from all corners of Orleans Parish. It lives in the embrace of friends finding one other at the banks of the Mississippi amidst the chaos of the day. It lives in the coveted, handmade throws made and given with care. It lives in the cold wet air that demands you drum up some inner fire and move your feet and shake your hips and hold your hands to the sky to receive the gift of a full and radiant life if only for today. Mardi Gras is about life—and, although, they were our first source of sustenance and comfort—let me break it to you and say it is not about all about lifting your shirt.
pick your playlist, track your miles and your drinks stay hydrated give your voice a rest massage your feet go to bed early drink tea wake up and go to the park or the lake or the bayou and sit by the water. Let do whatcha wanna become your battle cry and erase all feelings of missing out. Be where you are because you want to be there. Each Mardi Gras will come with its own themes, memories, highs and lows, partners in crime and unexpected turns. Chart your course and let the winds carry you, even if that means to bed.
In the film Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda pay two sex workers to accompany them through the quarter on a bender that compels them to visit St. Louis Cemetery #1 and scale the sides of the Italian Benevolent Society tomb. Not only is it unsafe to climb on structures when one is under the influence, it is also unsafe to disrespect tombs. Bad luck is easy to come by when you are acting the fool, so keep your hands to yourself and don’t touch private property. The one thing they got right? Keep your friends close. Take it a step further, and make sure someone is sober and/or respects the laws of human decency.