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By Roxanne Schick
Special to The PREVIEW
The first Mardi Gras celebration began in 1699 at Pointe du Mardi Gras in Louisiana, when the French came to the new World. When they arrived, it was Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent began. They held a modest celebration in honor of both their landing and of the day.
Mardi Gras is celebrated with more or less sobriety wherever there is a Catholic population, because of the Catholic period of fasting and abstinence that begins on the following day, Ash Wednesday.
In earlier days, fasting during Lent was more severe. It consisted largely of a vegetarian diet augmented with fish. Hence, before Lent began, binging on meats, cheeses and eggs was both a purification of the home of these riches, and a “stocking up” by the revelers in preparation for the fast. This is one of the reasons why eating eggs, ham, cheese and butter are a part of every traditional Easter table.
Immaculate Heart of Mary and Pope John Paul II churches are celebrating Mardi Gras 6-10 p.m. on Feb. 12, at the Immaculate heart of Mary Parish Hall.
A special feature of the night will include the Great Beard-off contest. Father Don Malin has been growing his beard as a fund-raiser for the past few months. That night, votes will be accepted for him to either shave or keep the beard. The person who casts the most votes will win a five-course dinner for six, prepared by Fr. Don, who has a reputation as being an awesome chef.
Votes are $1 each and you can vote as often as you like for either shaving or keeping the beard. A barber will be on hand to do the deed, should it be necessary.
Tickets are $15 per person, $25 per couple, and are available after the masses at both John Paul II Church and Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
Tickets are also available at Silver Dollar Liquors, Homespun Comforts and the Antler Shed. The evening will include a dinner of crawfish etouffé, gumbo and dirty rice with beans and andouille sausage, pork shoulder, bread pudding and beverages. There will be Cajun music and dancing, and a costume contest.