Predominantly celebrated in Catholic communities, Mardi Gras glass of wine shirt Mardi Gras is the French name for carnival – the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Since Lent is a period of fasting and reflection commemorating the 40 days that Christ was in the wilderness, Mardi (Tuesday) Gras is the last day for feasting and fun. Many, if not most, Mardi Gras celebrants do not bother with the religious intent associated with the observation, and much about the holiday has devolved into commercialism. A story in a Lafayette paper last week noted that the cost to be the queen of a krewe (groups that have their own parade floats and balls) is upwards of $50,000.
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Mardi Gras in rural Cajun country, however, Mardi Gras glass of wine shirt is all about the courier or run. Mardi Gras is in February or early March and coincides with the end of winter. Les couriers or runners collect ingredients for gumbo as they pass from house to house – a bit of rice from one family, some onion tops from another – the best is a chicken. The idea is that while each family might be at the end of their stores before the new growing season, when all the bits are put together, there is enough for all to enjoy the best dish we know: gumbo. The gathering of these ingredients is mostly symbolic today, but it reminds us that we can depend on one another for sustenance and joy. And by making a farce of begging, it removes the sting of any one family being in need.