America’s Puritanical past comes unbuttoned today. In New Orleans and elsewhere, revelers are guzzling beers, flinging plastic beads, and lifting their shirts in the unabashed celebration of Mardi Gras.
It’s the end of Carnival, the day before Lent, a release of hedonistic impulses before the swearing off of chocolate or cigarettes. What most Americans know as one Big Drunken Party has roots in Roman and pagan traditions, French and Spanish colonialism, and yes…the desperate need for a good, all-out, let-loose Party.
From the cornerstones of New Orleans and Mobile, to take-offs as far north as Lake Champlain – it’s a party that Americans cling to as their one blank check for licentiousness.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
Burt Wolf, PBS producer and author of “Gatherings and Celebrations”
Nick Spitzer, host of “American Roots”
Wayne Dean, the Slacabamorinoco of Mobile, Alabama’s Mardi Gras.