ICALA celebrates Mardi Gras with campus festivities


Melissa Ruhlman/The News

Ryan Steele
Contributing writer

Ash Wednesday was this week and that can only mean one thing. Mardi Gras has come and gone once again.

To most, Mardi Gras is a giant party, however, the celebration does have a symbolic meaning in the French and Catholic communities.

Mardi Gras is the last day of feasting before Lent, which is celebrated by giving something up that is dear until the arrival of Easter. Mardi Gras marks the end of the Carnival Season, and is officially held every year on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Being a French and Catholic holiday, it’s no surprise that the most well-known celebrations occur in cities of French descent such as St. Louis, Mo., and the famous New Orleans French Quarter.

Even though New Orleans may have been the desired spot for Mardi Gras, the International Cultures and Languages Association, or ICALA, brought its own touch of celebrations from around the world to the Curris Center on Tuesday, showcasing celebrations from everywhere including rural Mississippi to the Fasching festivals of Germany.

Therese St. Paul, associate professor of Humanities and Fine Arts, presented a video and lecture on the traditions of Mardi Gras all around the world.

The video featured stories from families who live in Mississippi and Louisiana towns where Mardi Gras is less a festival and more of a proving ground.

Males compete with each other to catch the chicken for the gumbo and whoever catches the chicken becomes the man of the day.

Also showcased in the film was the awe inspiring Fasching Festival which takes place in the major cities of Germany.

“It was pretty interesting seeing what all the countries around the world do for Mardi Gras compared to the U.S.,” Spenser Price, freshman from Cape Girardeau, Mo., said.

In Europe it’s a whole different level of celebration.

“I found it pretty funny that while people

in rural Mississippi are catching chickens to

find the man of the festival, people in Italy

are putting on a festival like no one has seen before,” Connor Ezell, freshman from Paducah, Ky., said. “I guess traditions are traditions though.”

After the presentation concluded, students were offered food and beverages, including a Mardi Gras favorite, king cake.

Winslow joined in on the celebration Tuesday night by serving a variety of Cajun food. Everything from craw fish to alligator tails were on the menu.

Students who came to the celebration Tuesday left with a better sense of how Mardi Gras is celebrated.