Based in New Orleans, we at TPN.Health have just experienced the city-wide end of Carnival season. If you live and work in the city limits, then you have undoubtedly been touched in some way by Mardi Gras, whether you wholeheartedly partook in the month-long festivities, staunchly avoided the hullabaloo, or fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Even if you tried to avoid the season entirely, you probably had to take a different route at some point due to road closures, heard the sounds from a parade, or encountered an over-zealous tourist.
Humans have been celebrating Mardi Gras since its origins as the Pagan Carnival of ancient Rome. Later, the arrival of Christianity changed the celebration’s intent to precede the forty-day Lenten season of fasting and penance. Mardi Gras, literally translating from French to “Fat Tuesday” in English, would serve as the last opportunity to eat richly and engage in debauchery before the long, somber days of self-deprivation leading up to Easter.
Among its many implications, Mardi Gras presents the opportunity for people, both visitors and locals to depart from ordinary life for a time. It is the invitation to experience a special connection to the city of New Orleans in a spirit of unbridled joy manifested as bright colors, music, dancing, parades, and food. In acknowledging the joy that Mardi Gras holds, it is equally as important to be aware of the implications of the celebration and post-celebration for the health of both individuals and groups of people.
Interacting with the Mardi Gras season on any level from abstaining to partaking can mean a variety of things for different people. On both the micro and macro levels, the events of the season can be weighted with experiences of loss, alienation, general anxiety, and stress among other things. Also, like other holidays of prolonged celebration, it is important to keep in mind the tie between the momentum of Mardi Gras, substance use, and the effects of this on individuals.
With the passing of such a heavily implicated season as Mardi Gras, it is essential to stay aware and mindful of the weight it may hold for individuals. Specifically, Mardi Gras’ historical and cultural ties with the theme of over-indulgence followed by self-deprivation serves as an appropriate bridge into this week, February 24 – March 1, which is National Eating Disorders Awareness and Screening Week. This year’s theme is “Come as You Are: Hindsight 2020,” in which NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) is encouraging its community to reflect on steps taken toward self-acceptance and acceptance of others.
Curious about eating disorders as a practitioner? Click here to read #NEDAwareness Week 2020 blog series. Need to refer out for eating disorder treatment? Create a TPN.Health profile and use the scopes of practice filter-search tool to find a clinician specializing in eating disorders.