Mercredi des Cendres

When I was a kid growing up in the mostly Protestant, rural edge of northwest Louisiana, we didn’t get out of school for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday for the non-Francophiles).

mardi gras

I’m not sure when colleges and universities began making it an official holiday, but I can’t recall it’s presence on the academic calendars before the advent of I-49.

The north-south interstate highway and the widening of Hwys 165 and 171 have increased the amount of cultural exchange in my home state, notably bringing crawfish to north Louisiana.

crawfish boil

Patisseries in Monterey had French Galette de Rois around the Epiphany, but they are very different from the Louisiana King Cake, even though they have the same name.

galette de rois

Traditional French Galette de Rois

Well, they’re both round…..

king cake

Traditional Louisiana King Cake, complete with the plastic baby.

The whole reason for the big party on Fat Tuesday is that it’s the precursor to the Lenten season, which kicks off with Ash Wednesday.

People from Louisiana have a reputation around the world as being fun-loving, friendly, and ready to party at the drop of a hat. I think we should be proud of this, because finally Louisiana is 1st in something good– being present, being mindful, being in the moment.

Tomorrow, it may come a flood or a hurricane, crops may fail, and politicians will surely disappoint, but we will deal with those problems when they arise.

make hay

Make hay while the sun shines is my big lesson of the Lenten season. There is always more to do, improvements to make, mountains to climb. But let’s not forget to celebrate, and celebrate daily, for tomorrow is not promised.

About Laura Alford, PhD

I'm a recent graduate of LSU (PhD in Accounting). In addition to academic research, I also write fiction on Tuesday nights with the Asilomar Writers.
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