For the past several years, my husband and I have kept pretty busy traveling. Typically we fly once or twice a month, buy motor homes and vehicles, then drive them back home to sell. We go all over the United States but the route between Texas and Florida is our road most traveled. As we so often do, we stop for the night in Mississippi and/or Louisiana on our way back home to Texas. They’re good halfway marks and rest stops for us.
So, every year around this time, no matter which hotel or restaurant we stop at in the Mississippi or Louisiana area, we find ourself engulfed in a sea of purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras decor. The colors are beautiful, vivid and eye catching, but I’ve always I found it strange that they also decorate the Christmas trees. The same trees that held Christmas ornaments in December are decorated with Mardi Gras ornaments and ribbons in January, February, and sometimes March.
Last month after once again seeing the Mardi Gras decorated trees, I decided to look a little more into the history of Mardi Gras.
After a quick internet search I was reminded that the Mardi Gras tradition originally dates back well over 2000 years ago to the pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, which included raucous Roman festivals. When Christianity arrived in Rome, the religious leaders (Catholic) decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into their religion, which apparently was an easier task for them to do than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Quite an interesting merger.
Growing up attending a Methodist church, I was somewhat familiar with Ash Wednesday and Lent. However years later, when I actually got saved, I noticed the Baptist Church I attended didn’t really speak of Ash Wednesday or Lent. It was then I learned that the practice of Ash Wednesday and Lent were actually man-made traditions. A few years later I learned that penance is also man-made, unbiblical, and is not the same thing as repentance. See https://www.gotquestions.org/penance-Bible.html
Repentance is a change of mind toward God.
Repentance of sin and faith in Christ are two sides of the same coin. Repentance of sin is a necessary step in salvation, and an ongoing daily private practice for believers in Christ. It is not an annual public event or tradition.
Additionally, the wearing of an ashen cross on one’s forehead, fasting, or giving up something for lent, as a matter of annual public practice or tradition is not biblical.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8
Now I know that Mardi Gras has long been considered a colorful cultural tradition for many of those raised in the south. The colors, the cakes, the family friendly parades and get-togethers have become a southern tradition that many people have enjoyed since childhood, but that’s about as kindly as I can put it.
I also know that some of what I’m saying here may be offensive. It’s honestly not my intent to offend anyone but it is my intent to always try to convey a biblical perspective. Tradition and culture add pleasure and variety to our daily lives but whenever they cross the line with what Bible has to say, I’m going with the Bible every time.
Truthfully, the debauchery, drunkenness, lasciviousness, and such that goes on in New Orleans and elsewhere in the name of “Mardi Gras” and “Fat Tuesday” is sickening to me. People overindulging, sinning egregiously and publicly; supposedly getting all of their sin out of their system before they start trying to be “good again.” One doesn’t become “good again” by performing man-made annual traditions. To me, this is a mockery of God and His plan of salvation.
And sin is serious business and should never to be celebrated.
Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13
The message of the gospel is that we can never be good enough to get to heaven. We must recognize that we are sinners who fall short of God’s glory, and we must obey the command to repent of our sins and place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Christ then, being the only “good person” gives His righteousness to all those who believe in His name.
The idea that Mardi Gras evolved from the mixing of pagan festivals and man-made traditions with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ does not sit well with me. While I suspect many who participate in the Mardi Gras debauchery do not claim to be Christian; they’re just there for the party. But to those who claim to be Christian, why perpetuate this mockery of Christ and His finished work on the cross? Trust in Christ alone, not in man-made traditions. No amount of participation in man-made traditions will increase your favor with Him. What He did on the cross is more than sufficient. What you do in response to His finished work on the cross is a matter of eternal life or eternal death.
Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. Jeremiah 21:8