In the Making

MG vs. St. P

Posted by cjaxon on March 20, 2011

I spent this week in NYC for spring “break.” I’ll write about that soon. Right now, I have some very pressing matters to discuss. As it turned out, I was in New York during St. Patrick’s Day. The whole town was decked out in green shirts, face paint, funny hats, and were slightly intoxicated. (I saw people stumbling around as early as 2 pm.) It was quite a festive day.

I was staying on the air mattress of a friend from back home who attends NYU, and in light of the celebrations I asked her about her Mardi Gras, just a week and a half ago. She said she had to look everywhere for beads; not even general party stores had Mardi Gras beads. She finally found one shop in Midtown that she could stock up from.

Now, I have nothing against St. Patrick, or his holiday in general. But it truly breaks my heart that St. Patrick’s is such a big deal, and Mardi Gras is practically nonexistent.

To think that there are places where no one even knows that it is Mardi Gras… it’s a frightening thought. For it’s part, Oklahoma hasn’t been so bad. I can still get beads and king cake locally. I’ve born the burden well to spread the joy to a campus of 2500, aided by the growing number of students from LA. But I’m just not sure I can take on all of New York City.

In light of this daunting task, I’ve prepared a comparison of Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s. Hopefully by the end, you’ll see why Mardi Gras is clearly superior.

Religious Significance

People who know about Mardi Gras generally know the reason for it too. It’s a final celebration before the fasting of Lent. Sure, it’s based on indulgence, but at least it’s a specific part of the liturgical calendar. On the other hand, does anyone actually know why we celebrate St. Patrick’s? I know the answer because I looked it up, but the point is, I had to look it up. (I’ll tell you by the end of the post.) 1 point for Mardi Gras.

Parades

So both days have a parade. That’s cool and all, but Mardi Gras parades are interactive – you participate as a spectator by collecting the beads, coins, and other paraphernalia thrown at you from the floats. And sometimes you try different methods of persuading the people to give you more beads.

Beads

Okay, if anyone wears beads for St. Patrick’s, it’s a total rip-off of Mardi Gras. That’s all there is to it. And anyways St. Paddy’s beads are nowhere near as gaudy as Mardi Gras’s. In South LA it’s not uncommon to see beads dangling from trees and telephone wires for months after the actual day.

Drinking

I can’t really say much about this one. For most participants they both involve lots of drinking.

Feasting

Okay, Mardi Gras blows St. Patrick’s out of the water for this one. I’m sure the food in Ireland is great, but I’ve never heard of a St. Patrick’s Feast. Anyways, Louisiana food is far more interesting. I mean, I’m certainly biased because I was raised on it, but I feel like the variety is better anyway. And I doubt Ireland has a tradition anything like the King Cake, with it’s multi-colored icing, variety of fillings, and of course, that crucial hidden baby.

Colors and decorations

So on St. Patrick’s you’re supposed to wear green, because we’re celebrating Ireland. (It was originally to celebrate when St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, but now it’s secularized to celebrate Irish culture in general. Well, there are more religious people than Irish people, so everyone who observes Lent should also celebrate Mardi Gras.) But the green. It’s nice and all. But for Mardi Gras, you get not one, not two, but three colors you can choose from and mix and match. The shamrock theme is pretty cool, but it’s outdone again by the Mardi Gras tradition of masks of all colors, styles, shapes and sizes.

And finally

Mardi Gras is a SEASON, not just a day.

St. Patrick’s Day comes and goes every March 17. Yet when done properly, Mardi Gras is like Advent. Just as Advent is a season of preparation that culminates on Christmas Day, Mardi Gras is a season of celebration that culminates on… Mardi Gras. So it’s a time of pure celebrating, culminating in more celebrating. You can have your parades and masks and king cake and beads for two or three weeks, not just one day.

I hope by now you understand why I’m puzzled that Mardi Gras isn’t celebrated more widely. Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with St. Patrick’s Day, or Irish culture. It just seems to me that Mardi Gras has reason to be a bigger party in the first place, and as a “religious” event can be appreciated on a personal level by more people.

Or maybe I’m just biased.

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