Mardi Gras at MVHS

French Honors Society celebrates Mardi Gras


Sreya Kumar

Music lightly plays over the speakers. It’s Stromae, a popular French singer introduced to the French classes at MVHS. The French Honors Society officers lay out paper masks, along with accessories and brightly colored beads. A photobooth is put up in the corner of the classroom, outlined by a string of fairy lights. An apple pie sits on another table, as members of the club crowded around it, eager to get a slice.

Mardi Gras is a fête typically celebrated by the French Honors Society. President and senior Alya Cherfaoui acknowledges the importance of the festival, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season, a period of time where Catholics give up foods like butter or salt.

“It is the last celebration of indulgence before the period of Lent in the Catholic calendar which does control the way the Francophone world developed,” club advisor and French teacher Sarah Finck said.

While Mardi Gras isn’t popular in France, it does have French roots and can be traced back to many French-speaking countries. In the United States, Mardi Gras is prominent in New Orleans, which is home to a large French-speaking population. It is typically characterized as a flamboyant festival with ornate masks and huge floats and can also be seen as a carnival.

However, as French students learn the cultures in francophone countries and states like the Caribbean and Louisiana, the meeting serves as a learning opportunity for members as the officers hoped to give French learners and their friends a taste of the French culture.

“I think that it is largely purely fun, that it allows them to socialize with each other and do some creative projects and eat something delicious,” Finck said. “It’s not a particularly serious celebration. I don’t think that they’re doing any instructional learning, like looking at what happens at New Orleans.”