Every year on this day, I think of my family and friends in my hometown of New Orleans. It is Mardi Gras Day - a fun time with family and friends and to share the culture with the young and visitors. Where I live in California, Mardi Gras isn't a social norm... life just continues to hum along.
But, in areas of Louisiana businesses away from the tourist areas or parade routes shut down and a drive down those streets can seem eerie (as I learned once after leaving the parade early to study while I was a Tulane graduate student.) This is a time of fun and frolic before the the religious and serious Lenten season begins.
The months and weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day are full of festive activities like float building, king cake parties, Balls, parades, costume making and preparations for spending a few hours sitting on the neutral ground or sidewalk to watch marching clubs and/or royalty and their courts pass by... and throw you beads, doubloons and other trinkets.
Who are these royalty? Really just ordinary people. It is probably one of the few places where you can join a club, work (volunteer) hard, rise through the ranks and finally assume the throne as a king or queen to be toasted by all of those who come to see you as you lead a parade down the street.
Yes, for some of us, Mardi Gras is a social norm. It is automatically a part of our life, even when we are removed from the environment. I may not be at the parades today, but I'm thinking of them and how my family and friends are masquerading and being a part of the fun. The day doesn't end until after the costume has been put on, all of the kisses for a paper flower are finished, the food/drink consumed, the parade ended, and the costume removed. And then, as the clock strikes midnight, all is quiet.