Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler?


Pardon my French, but I am beginning to believe that Mardi Gras has surpassed its name. By no means am I attempting to rain on anyone’s parade, however, it feels as if those celebrating have forgotten the purpose of this holiday. Fat Tuesday was a day to release all temptations before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Mardi Gras is now almost a month of ‘sin’ when people do all the drinking, eating, and partying they can before Lent. 

If you were to roam the streets of St. Charles Avenue, especially on the fattest of all Tuesdays (forty-seven days before Easter), you would see a copy-and-paste version of everybody wearing their long-sleeved Perlis shirts striped with green, purple and gold. They would be holding half-empty daiquiri and cream to-go cups, wearing strings of plastic beads around their necks, and roaring like animals. Puddles of alcohol and urine would create the green, purple and gold similar to the colors of Mardi Gras at your feet. You see, these observations lead me to believe over the years, the traditions are being abused. And doesn’t stop here, I noticed a similar pattern leading up to the final parade, the Easter parade.

Lent is supposed to be a time of reflection and simplicity, we practice these virtues through sacrifice. What is important to note is what we should and should not sacrifice. Throughout my years of participating in the 40 day season, I can confidently say I have seen the pendulum swing in both directions. I have seen both extremes. From the McDonalds chicken nugget orders on a Friday night to celery sticks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is not what Lent should look like. This is not practicing self-discipline; we should not be giving up our nutrition for this Catholic tradition. 

The other day in class, I overheard a conversation among my fellow classmates. They were talking about what it would take to achieve their version of the “perfect bod for sb 23”, not long after those five words left their mouth their Lenten sacrifice was brought up. Mind you, I may or may not have been eavesdropping; however, it took me a second to register why these juxtaposing words were used in the same sentence; then it clicked. Were people abusing this tradition to attain the beach body of their dreams? Isn’t Lent supposed to be a season of removing the small things to focus on the bigger picture? Why is it we have replaced clarity with hyperfixation? 

Lent should be a season of clarity and reflection, not destruction. We should be fasting from distractions to focus on the greater good.