January 8, 2012 12:46:00 AM
The party's over. Or is it? We have finished with Christmas and New Year's celebrations. Hanukkah, Kwanza, the Winter Solstice, and even the Iowa caucus are behind us. The days are cold, and the sky is still too dark. This is the perfect time to hibernate a bit; time for a long nap.
However, those who require constant excitement, do not despair. January 6 launched the Carnival season in Venice, Rio, and so much closer to home, Mobile and New Orleans.
The sixth of January is the Feast of the Epiphany, observed as the day The Magi arrived with gifts for Baby Jesus. It begins the countdown to Mardi Gras, the last day before the six weeks of Lent, and the time of fasting and atonement. Mardi Gras is a moveable feast, determined by phases of the moon. This year it will fall on February 21, a bit early and probably too cold.
Chris and I will always have our roots deeply planted in New Orleans. Although our days of wild abandon are mostly behind us, we cannot let this season slip away unrecognized. For most New Orleanians, January 6 is the day to take down Christmas décor. At our house we leave up anything that is purple, green and gold (the colors of Mardi Gras). These ornaments may have begun their life as Christmas decorations; now they serve for a different season.
Just inside of our front door is an open-work screen. We drape it with a few lights (also salvaged from recent holiday embellishments). The screen has lots of loops and curlicues to hang masks, boas, and anything that remotely reminds us of Carnival. Yes, I suppose a few of the balls have a rather Christmassy look. But remember, this is a season of fantasy. We just pretend that they are all about Mardi Gras and expect our guests to play along. Everyone is invited to participate and try on the costumes.
I adore the idea of costuming. In some ways, we all wear different dress for different reasons. There are clothes that are appropriate for work, or church or celebrations. But none which I can think of that are right for every situation. (Well, in the alternative reality of New Orleans, ball gowns and tiaras are always acceptable.)
Everyone loves to see a bride in her wedding finery. How disappointing it would be to attend a wedding where the happy couple show up in jeans or swim suits. Certainly, a few brides and grooms try to make a statement with team colors, vampire attire or scuba gear. I wonder how they will feel about the wedding photos in 10 or so years?
Every-day costuming can be fun. I do not mean that every day should be Halloween. My goal is only to wear the proper attire for all the occasions of our life.
Blue jeans (in my opinion) are not suitable for all that we do. Life has no uniform. Why then, does everyone seem to think that jeans and a black leather blazer are de rigueur? Once in a while it is right and good to don some other fabrics and a sparkly bauble or two.
Shakespeare said, "all the world's a stage." That is indeed true during Mardi Gras, no matter if you celebrate Fat Tuesday in Italy, Brazil or just Southern USA. I just wish more people would dress their part, whatever that is.
The Carnival season will end all too soon. Then, we might bring out our sack cloth and hair shirts. But, just for now, let's have fun with the costumes of our life.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.