Harlequin in Mardi Gras
What is Mardi Gras?
The terms “Mardi Gras” (mär`dē grä) and “Mardi Gras season“, in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. From theFrench term “Mardi Gras” (literally “Fat Tuesday”), the term has come to mean the whole period of activity related to those events, beyond just the single day, often called Mardi Gras Day or Fat Tuesday. The season can be designated by the year, as in “Mardi Gras 2008”.
The time period varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras as the Carnival period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday. Others treat the final three-day period as being Mardi Gras. In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving, then New Year’s Eve, formerly with parades on New Year’s Day, followed by parades and balls in January & February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday.
Other cities most famous for their Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, andNew Orleans, Louisiana. Many other places have important Mardi Gras celebrations as well.
Harlequin legacy for the Mardi Gras is not Harlequin as a pattern for the costumes used for the carnival, but rather to the Harlequin’s costumes, especially his famous mask. However, the mask is no longer in the original shape as in the Commedia dell’Arte, but it has been modified and adjusted with today’s culture.