Mardi Gras is an annual holiday popular in Catholic-populated areas that takes place 47 days before Easter. The name Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday. After this day of partying, people go to church for Ash Wednesday to confess their sins, and then observe a forty-day period of repentence called Lent.
Fifty years ago it was common for Protestant pastors in south Louisiana to preach against Mardi Gras. Slowly acceptance for the holiday grew among non-Catholic religious groups.
Each Mardi Gras parade is hosted by an organization called a Krewe and each Krewe is named after a Greek or Roman god or goddess. For example, the Krewe of Bacchus is named after the god of wine.
Each year the Krewe decides on a theme and the parade floats are designed to fit this theme. The float riders throw colorful beads, aluminum coins known as doubloons, stuffed animals and other party favors.
Wherever large crowds gather, criminals are guaranteed to show up. Every year the local media warns the parade goers to be cautious of pickpocketers.
On Mardi Gras day the truckers parades follows the official floats. People that cannot afford to be a member of the krewes will ride in trucks and throw beads to the crowds. Some churches have joined the truckers parades and throw gospel tracks instead of the traditional beads.
Where I grew up in Houma, Louisiana, some churches view Mardi Gras as a fundraising opportunity and set up concession stands to sell food to the crowds. Some Christians also prayer walk the parade route before the parades begin.
For Christians concerned about the Great Commission, Mardi Gras is an excellent opportunity to tell the world that Jesus loves us.