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Pagans And Mardi Gras

By Kenny Klein

[Snip] The Paganism behind Mardi Gras is evident in the names of the krewes, which are the societies that put on our parades: The Krewe Of Oshun; The Krewe Of Cleopatra; The Krewe Of Sparta; The Mystic Knights Of Adonis; The Krewe Of Thor; The Krewe Of Atlas; The Mystic Krewe Of Druids; The Mystic Krewe Of Nix; The Krewe Of Muses; The Knights Of Hermes; The Krewe Of Isis; The Krewe Of Zeus; The Krewe Of Hera; and of course The Krewe Of Bacchus. It is no coincidence that most of the nearly seventy parades of Mardi Gras are named for Pagan deities and cultures.

To begin with, Mardi Gras is our version of Carnival, a Catholic tradition with major Pagan roots. Carnival is the time between Twelfth Night and Lent, which is roughly a four week period. Our celebration of Carnival climaxes on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. By most scholarship, Carnival (Carnivale) means “meat festival,” the time before Lent when one eats meat before giving up such rich foods. The same meaning is held in Mardi Gras, the day of eating rich (fat) foods. (There is one theory, however, that Carnivale comes from sailing ship, and that this is the ancient feast of Isis blessing the year’s first voyages).

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