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Mardi Gras

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Definition: French for “Fat Tuesday,” it is a day of revelry preceding the forty day period of abstinence, penance and self-inspection known as Lent. The period preceding Lent in some Catholic countries is also known as “Carnivale” which means “farewell to meat.” At one time, Catholics were required to abstain from all meat products during Lent. Current Church law requires abstaining only on Ash Wednesday and all Lenten Fridays. In New Orleans, the celebration includes parades known as “throws,” where beads and other trinkets given away. The largest celebration is the Bacchus parade on Sunday night, drawing over a hundred thousand revelers.

Discussion: Carnivale and Mardi Gras celebrations are excuses for inappropriate behavior and ungodly rituals. Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and intoxication, and is the root word for bacchanalia – a drunken feast or orgy. Catholicism provides a minimalistic view of what is necessary for heaven. As long as the Catholic keeps the five precepts of the Church, and confesses serious sins to a priest, they are eventually assured of heaven. There is even a safety net known as purgatory for those who had just a little too much fun.

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