Read what my knowledgeable darling husband has got to say about Mardi Gras, dear friends!
Today is Mardi Gras, traditionally the last day of Carnival and the first day of Lent which marks the beginning of the forty days that Jesus spent in the Wilderness. Growing up in a Protestant household as I did, I knew it as Shrove Tuesday and we marked it with not very exciting pancakes. Mardi Gras sounded much more interesting.
While doing some basic research for this piece, which is essentially another music piece, I must say I got a bit confused. My calendar (analogue and hanging on the kitchen wall) seemed to be telling me that there were rather more than forty days left till Easter. The penny only dropped when I realised that Sundays were not included in the forty- maybe I knew that once I’m not sure.
That’s the basic Christian background but Mardi Gras is principally celebrated in places where other influences are mixed in. New Orleans and Rio, the most famous celebrants of Mardi Gras, have big Afro-Caribbean populations, and West African traditions of the Yoruba in particular play an important role in New Orleans.
Let’s start the music which will all be from New Orleans which I know much better than Rio- apologies for that. Here’s the man who kick-started the piano RnB for which the city is famous. And he’s going to the Mardi Gras:
The Yoruba influence brought in voodoo references which are an inescapable part of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The city is musical 365 days a year but Mardi Gras remains one of the focal points of the calendar- the Jazz and Heritage Festival is another. But it’s on Mardi Gras that the Voodoo King and Voodoo Queen come to town…
We’ll end with some mambo, one of the dances brought into the New World from Africa:
Enjoy your Mardi Gras.
By Ian Craine