Mardi Gras is here.
Fat Tuesday. Traditionally he last day of fun before the somber season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras celebrations are rooted in the Catholic faith. Lent—which commemorates the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fending off temptation in the wilderness—means sacrifice, fasting and penitence. That's all well and good. But people being people, 40 days is a long time without the sins of the flesh. So many decided the night before Ash Wednesday was the ideal time to indulge in lavish meals and heavy drinking forbidden during Lent.
Over the years, dancing and other forms of revelry were added to the food and drink. Costumes, parades, and the like followed. Worldwide the capital of Mardis Gras is Rio de Janiero. The Brazilian city is known for it's lavish celebration, called Carnival, which dates back to the 1700s and attracts 2 million people per day.
In the U.S., though, Mardi Gras is traditionally associated with New Orleans. The famed and mysterious Krewes hold balls and parades and fun-seekers from all over converge on the French Quarter and Garden District. Many other cities, including Mobile, Ala., Galveston, Texas, and Savannah, Ga., also hold elaborate festivities.
We even celebrate—on a much more modest scale—here in Texarkana.
Many local bars and clubs will be full of happy people in funny hats, masks and beads, celebrating, dancing and singing.
And that's fine.
Most of us—even the most festive—will greet Ash Wednesday with little more than a headache and good intentions for Lenten discipline.
But some won't be so fortunate.
Whenever you have a lot of people out drinking, the incidence of drunken driving goes up. So do arrests. So do accidents.
The police will be out in force tonight. If you celebrate with adult beverages, don't get behind the wheel. Strong waters dull the senses and can lead you into believing you are safe to drive. You aren't.
You could wind up behind bars, facing a hefty fine, drivers' license suspension and much higher insurance rates.. And that's if you are lucky. You might end up in the hospital. Or the morgue. Or you might send someone else to one of the two.
Think about it. Think hard.
Let the good times roll. But don't let the good times roll all over you.