Stano Law - February 2019

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That’s also the result of its Catholic origins. Lent, a time of fasting and giving up earthly pleasures, begins on Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras. Historically, Mardi Gras was a chance to engage in revelry before 40 days of lean living. In other words, it was the binge before the purge. Today, Mardi Gras celebrations certainly bring to mind images of people bingeing. The tourist experience of Mardi Gras is one of drinking on Bourbon Street, crowding the bars, and staying up all night. While you can definitely have that Mardi Gras if you want it, most locals will tell you that the “real” Mardi Gras is something else entirely. “Mainstream media tends to showcase a very specific kind of Mardi Gras,” says Solange Knowles, “but my experience of Mardi Gras is very different; it’s very cultural.” These cultural traditions were created by social clubs called krewes. The krewes create floats, dress in ornate costumes, and parade down

the streets trailed by brass bands known as second lines.

The official food of Mardi Gras is king cake. Though called a cake, it’s actually more of an iced bread; the dough closely resembles brioche. On top of the cake, you’ll find icing in green, gold, and purple, which are the colors of the Mardi Gras flag. A figurine called a feve is hidden inside the cake, usually in the shape of a baby. It is considered good luck to be the person whose slice has the figurine inside. All of these institutions are still in place today and have come to represent what Mardi Gras means to residents. Mardi Gras in the United States is now a celebration of distinctly New Orleans culture as much as it is a festive release before Lent. From the music and the food to the costumes and the parades, Mardi Gras is New Orleans. Or, as legendary NOLA pianist Professor Longhair once sang, “If you go to New Orleans / You ought to go see the Mardi Gras.”

At first, the people who participated in the festivities were of mostly French or Catholic heritage.

Eventually, though, it morphed into a citywide party more secular than religious in nature.

In addition to the Gulf Coast of the United States, Mardi Gras celebrations occur throughout the world. In Brazil, where it is known as Carnival, it is the nation’s most celebrated and well-known holiday. It’s also a major event in Belgium, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands, and Germany.

THE TRADITIONS

No matter where Mardi Gras happens, it’s always something of a bacchanalian feast.

In our darkest moments, it can be hard to believe joy can be found again. But one amazing dog proves that no matter what happens, through love and patience, we can make the world a better place. Chi Chi is a golden retriever who was found in a dumpster by an animal rescue group in South Korea. Badly injured and left in a garbage bag with her legs bound together, the only way to save Chi Chi’s life was to amputate all four of her legs. As she recovered, the call went out to find a family who could care for a dog with serious medical needs. As a quadruple amputee, just getting Chi Chi’s prosthetics on so she could go outside in the morning would be time-consuming. Fortunately, Elizabeth Howell from Arizona saw a video about Chi Chi’s plight online. “She stole my heart,” Howell said, taken by how Chi Chi was still wagging her tail despite her injuries. After seeing Chi Chi’s perseverance and her will to live, Elizabeth and her family took on the challenge. There were struggles as Chi Chi learned to trust people again, but with time, Chi Chi found peace and joy with her new family. Chi Chi the Rescue Dog A Quadruple Amputee Who Inspires the World

“She exemplifies resilience and forgiveness and willingly shares her love and compassion in abundance,” Howell has said. “Her sweet-tempered and gentle spirit opens people’s hearts and her perceptive spirit senses where her love is needed.” Chi Chi’s vet has called her a “miracle dog,” referring both to the fact that she survived losing all her legs and to the joy she brings to the world. Today, Chi Chi is a registered therapy dog, offering strength, love, and support to those who need it most. She visits VA hospitals, assisted living facilities, and children with disabilities. To celebrate her journey of survival, courage, and love, Chi Chi was honored with the American Humane Hero Dog Award in 2018. You can follow the adventures of this brave, loving canine at Facebook.com/ ChiChiRescueDog.

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