It’s three weeks until Mardi Gras.
I’d been meaning to post something here about masking on Mardi Gras, how it’s pretty much essential to the spirit of the day, how it differs from Halloween, and so forth, for the benefit of my parents who will be coming down for their first Carnival ever. But I’ve ended up talking with Mom on the phone a few times instead, so that essay will have to wait for another year.
Though I’m a big proponent of masking, normally I don’t have very good ideas for costumes. But this year it occurred to me: Since it’s Persephone’s first Mardi Gras, she could go as Persephone and Xy could go as her mother, Demeter. Perfect!
(That leaves the question of me. I’ve always identified with Hades but I’d feel a little creepy in that role now. Some myths say Zeus is Persephone’s father, but I’ve never liked Zeus much, and moreover that strikes me as a latter-day patriarchal insertion. In earlier versions of the myth, I believe Persephone was a product of parthenogenesis. No father. So I hit on the idea of going as a celebrant in the Eleusinian mysteries. Say what? Yes, I fully realize no one would “get” that; I’d have to distribute an explanatory pamphlet. But it makes perfect sense, since I do worship my Demeter and Persephone, and the conceit does have the virtue of being extensible, so my parents could also mask as celebrants if they so desired.)
But look out — here comes a mind-blowing revelation. The inimitable Dr. A sent me a message via Facebook yesterday:
I was reading the Andy Hardy Mardi Gras guide last night and saw that Rex’s theme is “Spirits of Spring” and that they have a Persephone float!
I could hardly believe it. I had to verify, it seemed so incredible.
And it’s true.
I should mention that I’m usually not checking out the big parades on Mardi Gras. After all, you can see parades all through Carnival if you so desire. The real fun on Fat Tuesday is not to watch a parade but to be a parade. So although Rex is a classy affair, with some of the most sophisticated and highbrow themes and some of the most aesthetically pleasing floats, I wasn’t planning to make a point of checking Rex out. We’d been planning to hook up with Saint Anne.
But this seems too cool and too cosmic to ignore. Now I’m inclined to change our Mardi Gras plans entirely and head uptown, which I haven’t done for years. In fact, Mom & Dad, if you’re still looking for costume ideas, you might want to check out some of Rex’s other Spirits of Spring as outline in this RTF document. Or — this only just occurred to me — you might consider Persephone’s grandparents, Cronus and Rhea. For some reason Zeus is sounding better to me now.
Persephone’s first Mardi Gras, and there’s a float in her honor. My mind is still reeling.
Oh, one last thing: If anyone reading this has an “in” with Rex, my daughter would love to get a sneak peek at that float.