BY SYBILLE C. DENNINGER
Mardi Gras is Today :-)
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
New Orleans is famous for its Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) celebration which reaches its peak today and ends at midnight tonight in time for Ash Wednesday. Many know the famous Creole cheer: Let the good times roll! Here is a little extra info about the origins of this fun celebration.
Like with many old customs its roots are religious, specifically Catholic, since Ash Wednesday starts off the 40-day fasting period known as Lent. On "Fat Tuesday" people in the olden days really stuffed themselves one last time before Lent, maybe to eat ahead, or maybe to make sure all of the perishable food didn't go to waste. Origins of some of the customs may reach back way before Christians times, especially in Europe, where masks were worn and noise makers used to drive out the evil winter spirits.
My home country of Germany also celebrates Mardi Gras or "Carneval" today, and in fact there the "Faschingszeit" (Carneval time) starts 11 minutes past 11 a.m. on November 11th every year.
It has the same roots as Mardi Gras stateside but some of the traditions in Germany, such as making fun of politicians in speeches, with caricatures and masks, stem from the times of the French Revolution when the French took over the Rhineland. To protest, residents of Cologne and Mainz, still two of the major Carneval cities today, disguised themselves to openly mock the French. Do I see a Mardi Gras connection????
I leave you with a mouthwatering picture of a traditional German treat called "Faschingskrapfen". It is basically a jam-filled type of donut but the dough is exactly like fried dough. The filling I love the most is rosehip jam, which is very traditional in the Franconia region where I came from. Hellau! (Faschings-greeting in Mainz)