Friday, July 26, 2013

The Mardi Gras Speech I Wrote at Age 11

            “Throw me somethin’! Throw me somethin’, Mister!” The kid reaches for the prize, hoping to grab it, and do they? Yes, they somehow do through the crowd of flailing arms, also reaching for that throw, as the prizes are dubbed, or another. We all, or at least most of us, know what it’s like to reach for the ball, trying to pass it, grab it, hit. Now you are probably wondering what sports have to do with Mardi Gras, but I’ll explain that soon. Until then I must talk to you about the beginnings of Mardi Gras, the original celebration, how it lasted through the ages, the current celebration, and of course, Fat Tuesday itself.

            Everything about Mardi Gras that we know started in Greece. Well, the origins anyways. They didn’t have parades, or masking, or throws. But we did have the basic idea, a spring festival. Can you imagine that kid standing there, amazed to be at such a festival? I know I would be, and not just because I had traveled to one of my favorite time periods. And the idea of Mardi Gras stayed when the Greeks were conquered by the Romans. Except this was when the costumes and the masking flooded in. Chariot races, gladiators, and wild parties also joined in. It also gained the first name that we know of, Lupercallis. The first official date was also created, March 25th. It seemed you could get away with almost any crime that day. From thievery to murder to rioting. Anything was allowed. And when the Christians were attempting to convert the Romans, they let them keep their celebration they just calmed it down a bit, made it more religious. They also gave it a new date, earlier in the year. When they created the new date for Easter, they also created one for Mardi Gras. It was to be the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, six weeks before Easter. It had many names over the years, all variations of Carnival. And let’s just say it traveled around the Christian church and it eventually got an official name in France, Mardi Gras.

            Who here has seen “The Princess Frog?” Well, if you paid any attention, you would have noticed that Charlotte’s father was declared King of Mardi Gras, and that is what I am going to tell you about. Not that story specifically, but the basic idea. Imagine that kid there again, at one of the first Mardi Gras parades in America, yet again amazed to be there. And yet again, I know I would be. I mean who wouldn’t love to go to one of the balls or parades? In case you ever do, I’ll tell you a bit more about them, and the King of Mardi Gras. It all started with krewes, which were elite groups of men, and these krewes threw the parades and the parties. And it is not spelled like a rowing crew, but with a k at the beginning and an e at the end. One of the first krewes was Comus, they also created the word krewe. And soon after, the King of Mardi Gras was created too, and he was dubbed “Rex.” Then, in 1909, the first black krewe was created, named Zulu. About then they had teased Rex and created the Zulu King, making him their own version. The new century brought in new krewes and kicked out others, it was stopped for World War I and World War II. But it still survived. The balls also survived, but they soon did almost die off.

            And now we are almost done with our journey through time. Now about how many of you, by a show of hands, have ever heard the song “House of the Rising Sun?” Because if you do know that song, then you know it takes place in New Orleans. But we are not talking about the House of the Rising Sun, we are talking about Fat Tuesday, a nickname for Mardi Gras. Now I explain what sports have to do with Mardi Gras, so back to the arms. Remember that feeling of slight pain as you stretch, that was what the kid felt like as he reached for the throw, usually a cup or some bead necklaces, maybe a doll. He was probably dressed in his costume, themed as something from Mythology, maybe he was dressed as Icharus. The little boy would not be the only one dressed up, other people, wearing masks and other costumes, were commonly parade goers. Then there were the people on the floats, dressed in extravagant costumes, throwing the throws, which is actually very tiring.

            “Throw me something’! Throw me somethin’, Mister!” The kid calls again, reaching for another throw. And yet again he grabs it. After traveling through time and learning the actual gist of Mardi Gras, about its history, krewes, parades, and everything he could stuff into only a few minutes, imagine how he felt there. It must have been perfect.

Like the title says. I apologize if it sucks, but it got the point across and I got like a B+ OF WHICH I WAS VERY PROUD. Five minutes and forty eight seconds. I was eleven so please understand it's badness. I also wrote the majority in a matter of a few hours the night before and had it proofread (SURPRISE SURPRISE I DO THAT SOMETIMES) by my father. Maybe one day (not) I'll post my U2 speech or Ancient Greek one (lost copies of both. whoops).