Mardi Gras has arrived!
Celebrations have engulfed New Orleans, ongoing around the world.
It's Mardi Gras, and revelers have wasted no time taking to the streets. Already, throngs of partygoers line the streets in New Orleans, and celebrations are ongoing around the world, particularly in Europe and South America.
Revelers packing the streets in the French Quarter.
People from across the country have converged on the French Quarter in New Orleans, some for the parades, and others for the bacchanal that consumes the holiday.
Just after 8 AM, this morning, the African-American Zulu krewe hit the streets. A krewe is a group organized to stage Mardi Gras parties or parades. Many revelers were wearing black-face makeup and wigs, typical for that krewe. A number of other krewes are staging parades and parties well into the evening throughout the city.
The city is on official (state) holiday. Schools, banks, and government institutions are closed.
The holiday is typified by the revelry that happens in the evening where the parties can sometimes take a life of their own. As a rule, revelers often overindulge in alcohol, jeopardizing their safety.
Police turn out in maximum force to control the crowds, enforce decency, and prevent fighting.
Despite the parties that seem to define the holiday in New Orleans, the great majority of locals seem content to pass the holiday quietly at home, in more reverent fashion. And while for most, it is a day off work, for others it genuinely is a religious occasion, marking the last day before the start of the Lenten season in the Christian calendar.
Lent is a period of fasting and repentance during which penitents are invited to open themselves more fully to the message of God by emptying themselves though fasting and prayer. The season runs until Easter, but does not include Sundays.
Mardi Gras also provides a substantial, early-year economic boost to the tourism industry in the gulf states region.
For tonight's celebrations, the forecast is expected to be mild with daily highs in the 70's and partly cloudy skies. No rain is expected, so most revelers will enjoy a dry holiday - of sorts.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: New Orleans, Mardi Gras, Lent, Easter, French Quarter, celebration, catholic
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