Carnival in Quarantine — But Hopefully Not Mardi Gras
It's January 6. Twelfth Night. The Epiphany. The 12th Day of Christmas. Do you know what that means?
In the Deep South and many regions of the world, this day marks the beginning of the Carnival season that stretches between Twelfth Night — today, Jan. 6 — and Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Mardi Gras is only one day, a Tuesday, the final blowout before city residents must give up something for Lent.
But we enjoy Carnival the whole time. In the case of this year, two whole months worth!
Mardi Gras, the day, floats through the year, much like Easter and other lunar-based calendar events. This year, Mardi Gras will be "late," as we say in New Orleans, on Tuesday, March 1. This always brings a cheer from Louisiana residents, because the chance of attending parades and other festivities the weekend preceding Mardi Gras and, of course, Mardi Gras Day, will be greeted by sunshine and warmth.
This year, a late Mardi Gras also means getting far away from the current rise in Omicron Covid cases.
In my house, we have been vigilant against covid - always wearing a mask, staying home, getting shots as soon as they were able, getting the booster. My husband is high risk and my son and I suffer from asthma so we did not want to catch this horrible virus.
Alas, my son, who works in a daycare, came home with a raging fever and sore throat last week. We had thought it was strep throat; our other son we visited over the holidays had suffered through that a week or so before. Regardless, we sequestered Taylor into his room, made him wear a mask if he ventured out.
The next day, Taylor tested positive for covid. Now all three of us were in quarantine.
You would think a writer would welcome staying at home for 10 days, but I had taken a week off in between the holidays to spend fun time (not that writing isn't fun, but that's another story) with my sister, to go hiking and explore my new home in Georgia. The nasty weather took care of several days, so my last hope of getting out faded when Taylor came home with a fever. When the New Year rolled around, I was too depressed to ring in 2022. For me, it was just a blur from 2020 to now.
But today is Carnival. And it's my favorite time of the year. I'm miles away from the parades of my hometown, but from what I've read this new variant is a brat but it will be hopefully short-lived, which means we may have Mardi Gras after all. I don't know about all the Carnival balls scheduled for this time of year, or the early events that occur before the big blowout weekend, but tonight's 7 p.m. Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc Parade in the French Quarter rolls on. The Société Des Champs Elysée has changed its annual downtown streetcar ride this year that heralds in Carnival but the group will walk the intersection of Elysian Fields and St. Claude avenues starting at 6 p.m. tonight. Hooray, but be safe, y'all.
As of press time, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell assured residents and visitors alike that 2022 Carnival would happen, but there were adjustments to parade routes, to assure public safety. NOLA.com offers a complete guide of the Carnival season with parade and event updates here.
So, now I have hope. My husband tested negative. I have no symptoms and have not ventured out to attempt the long long lines of covid testing, but then I'm a writer, and I never leave the house much anyway. My son who lives with us, the one who made us quarantine, has recovered and returns to work today.
And Mayor Cantrell assured me Carnival would go on.
There is hope.
If you need a dose of Carnival, I wrote a short piece titled "Carnival Confessions" that not only explains our very special festival but provides a romance as well. I wrote this years ago for an audio company looking for short stories that would last as long as a workout — they were aiming for women wanting a story to distract them from the treadmill. The company didn't make it, unfortunately, but I expanded the story into an ebook. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. The story's available at ALL online bookstores for only .99 cents. You can find a list with links here.