A Trip to Beat the Winter Blues!
It’s February here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, and despite the colder weather, the place is buzzing! Many of our storage rental customers are coming in to rearrange their storage space in anticipation of Spring’s arrival – others, I believe, just have cabin fever. Whatever the reason, they are here, and like most businesses, our customers come in all shapes and sizes. We have senior citizens, young couples just starting out, students, people moving, and families downsizing, just to name a few. Our customers also run the full spectrum of personality types, from shy and retiring, to bold and boisterous! One of our more flamboyant and energetic couples, Marc and Tanya, popped into the rental office today to let me know that they were paying their rent, and that I would not see them for a while because they were going to Mardi Gras! They explained that they had been invited, spur of the moment, by some friends of theirs, and while they were very excited, they knew very little about Mardi Gras. I suggested that we do the red blooded American thing, and Google Mardi Gras. So we did – here is a condensed list of what we learned…
MARDI GRAS IS ALWAYS THE TUESDAY BEFORE ASH WEDNESDAY
Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. With Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting before Easter, Mardi Gras is the “last hurrah” of sorts, with participants indulging in their favorite fatty foods and drinks before giving them up.
MARDI GRAS MARKS THE END OF CARNIVAL SEASON
Countries around the world celebrate Mardi Gras as the last day of Carnival season, which starts after Christmas, on January 6th, (known as ‘Twelfth Night’).
MARDI GRAS IS ALSO KNOWN AS “PANCAKE DAY”
In Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, people celebrate Mardi Gras by eating pancakes and participating in pancake themed activities.
THE OFFICIAL COLORS OF MARDI GRAS ARE PURPLE, GOLD, AND GREEN
Purple signifies justice, gold means power, and green stands for faith.
KING’S CAKE IS EATEN ALL THROUGHOUT CARNIVAL SEASON
King’s cake (or three kings cake), is eaten throughout the world during carnival season. In the US, it is traditionally purple, green, and gold, with a trinket baby Jesus inside. Whoever gets the baby Jesus is said to have good luck all year!
THE FIRST NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS PARADE WAS 177 YEARS AGO
New Orleans has been celebrating Fat Tuesday with parades since 1837. The first floats appeared in the parade in 1857.
PARADES ARE PLANNED BY ‘KREWES’
Krewes are the organizations that put on a parade and/or a ball for Mardi Gras/Carnival. They are clubs of a sort, with dues ranging from $20 to thousands of dollars annually. Krewes are also responsible for selecting carnival royalty in New Orleans, such as ‘Rex’, the king of Mardi Gras.
MASKS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW FOR FLOAT RIDERS
Yep, it’s illegal to ride on a float without a mask! The original purpose of the mask was to get rid of social constraints for the day, allowing people to mingle with whomever they chose.
BEADS HAVE BEEN A TRADITION SINCE THE EARLY 1900’s
Beads were first thrown by Santa during a parade in the early 1900’s. People also throw stuffed animals, toys and more.
MARDI GRAS IS A STATE HOLIDAY IN SOME PLACES
Fat Tuesday is an official state holiday in Alabama, (the home of the first Mardi Gras parade and 2nd biggest current celebration), Florida, and parts of Louisiana. Although it’s not a state holiday in Texas, Galveston is home to one of the biggest celebrations in the country!
After completing our research, we all agreed that this sounded like a good time! “See you when you get back” I shouted as Marc and Tanya ran out the door, and across the parking lot to their car. I have to admit, I’m a little bit jealous. I also have a sudden urge to decorate our golf cart and ride around the property wearing a mask and beads while eating pancakes! Happy Mardi Gras everyone!