It’s an early Mardi Gras again this year. The balls started shortly after Christmas trees began being deposited curbside for recycling. It seems that Mardi Gras falls more often in February than in March, but a little bit of research will disprove that (or not), depending on how far back in history you choose to go. Perhaps the best short answer for “When the heck is Mardi Gras?” is: Ash Wednesday is always 46 days before Easter, and Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. But Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25; the exact date coincides with the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox. No simple answer.
If you dig a little deeper, you will find that the vernal equinox date usage was true prior to 325 A.D., but then the Western Church decided that was not good enough. It changed the date to correspond with the Paschal (Easter) full moon, which was determined from historical tables and has no correspondence to lunar events. This is a great distinction to have in your back pocket when arguing with friends over a glass of wine or two.
Around 1583 A.D. the Western Christian Church, advised by astronomers, approximated the dates of all the full moons in future years—a calendar which we are still using today. Let’s hope that, unlike the Mayans, they have a plan if their calendar runs out.
With all these dates, there is enough fodder here for a History Channel mini-series. I say we pick a weekend, any weekend, and mark the holiday—much as we do for Thanksgiving. For example, if the third Sunday of April is always Easter, we would have a permanent mid-March Mardi Gras. Imagine how great that would be for planning.
Over the last few decades, Baton Rouge has grown to host seven official Mardi Gras Parades: Krewe of Jupiter, Mystic Krewe of Mutts, Krewe of Artemis, Krewe of Mystique, Krewe of Orion, Krewe of Southdowns and Krewe of Spanish Town. Four of these are night parades. You can check out the schedules at visitbatonrouge.com/mardigras.
Get out and enjoy the festivities because all too soon, Baton Rouge’s unofficial Mardi Gras mascot—the pink flamingo—will fly the coop until next year’s mischief ensues. Make the most of it.
A short drive west will allow you to enjoy even more culture in south Louisiana. Join visitors and artists at NuNu’s Culture Arts and Culture Collective in Arnaudville to view art, listen to music and even grab a bite. This center is part of the Deux Bayous Cultural District.