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LENTEN CUSTOMS

ABOUT TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE LENTEN FASTING BEGINS, THE PEOPLE OF
NEW ORLEANS CELEBRATE THE FESTIVAL OF "MARDI GRAS." ACTUALLY,
MARDI GRAS MEANS "FAT TUESDAY" AND THIS IS THE DAY BEFORE ASH
WEDNESDAY. BUT THE PEOPLE CELEBRATE FOR A COUPLE WEEKS BEFORE-
HAND, MUCH THE SAME WAY AS MOST PEOPLE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS.
MARDI GRAS IS CHARACTERIZED BY ITS MAGNIFICENT PARADES. VARIOUS
GROUPS SPEND ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF TIME, EFFORT, AND MONEY TO MAKE
THEIR FLOATS AS BEAUTIFUL AS POSSIBLE. THROUGHOUT THE PARADE,
PEOPLE SIT ON THE FLOATS AND THROW TRINKETS, BEADS AND OTHER CHEAP
TOYS TO THE CROWDS WHO CLAMOR TO SEE WHO CAN CATCH THE MOST.
MANY OF THESE ARTICLES ARE VIRTUALLY WORTHLESS, BUT I HAVE SEEN
EXPENSIVE BEADS, GOLD PIECES AND EVEN $20.00 BILLS BEING THROWN
TOO. BESIDES THIS, EACH PARADE HAS ITS OWN PARTICULAR NAME ( THE
REX PARADE, FOR EXAMPLE) AND THE PEOPLE SITTING ON THE MAIN FLOAT
OF EACH PARADE THROW OFF "DOUBLOONS" WITH THE NAME OF THE PARADE
AND THAT YEAR STAMPED ON. A "DOUBLOON" IS A SILVER-DOLLAR SIZED,
PLASTIC COIN, ALWAYS IN PURPLE, GOLD, OR GREEN.
LONG AFTER MARDI GRAS IS OVER, PEOPLE CONTINUE TO TRADE DOUBLOONS--
TO TRY TO GET A DUBLOON OF EACH COLOR FROM EACH PARADE. THIS
COLLECTION CAN BE QUITE VALUABLE. SO THE PARADES, DOUBLOONS, BALLS,
AND PARTIES MAKE MARDI GRAS THE MOST FESTIVE TIME OF THE WHOLE
YEAR IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: 663 Mardi Gras

Date learned: 00-00-1972

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