Occasionally people need to find an opportunity to loosen up and unwind. The ancient Greeks understood this, and that is why they regularly staged elaborate plays. People could gather together and revel in the spectacle. Often the crowds would swell to such enormous sizes that the audience had a difficult time clearly seeing the actors. Therefore, the actors began to wear elaborate masks that heavily emphasized the emotions that they wished to portray. Once the mask was placed upon the performer, the performer ceased to be him or herself and transformed into someone else entirely. Masks provide their wearer with a sense of anonymity. There is a freedom that comes with wearing a mask. People act in ways that they might not act otherwise.

The key is in finding the right place to don a mask. Every year there is a series of Carnival celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana known as Mardi Gras that precede the Christian season of Lent. This year, it will last from January 1st until February 10th. There are gigantic floats, skillfully designed doubloons, highly trained flambeau carriers, delicious king cakes with toy baby’s inside, and a vast assortment of masks. The concept behind wearing masks at Mardi Gras is that by wearing a mask, the wearer is celebrating a last hoorah prior to having to begin fasting for Lent.

Making a Mardi Gras mask is fairly simple. Take a piece of colored construction paper. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are gold, green, and purple. Gold symbolizes power, green symbolizes faith, and purple symbolizes justice. Cut out a large figure 8 that is roughly the width of your head. Be creative with the figure 8. You can cut round edges, sharp edges, or you can cut designs into it. Make two eyeholes. Find a twelve-inch long dowel. Decorate the mask with fabric, faux jewelry, foil, glitter, paint, ribbons, and sequins. Feel free to go wild. Paint the dowel an attractive color. Glue the dowel to one side of the mask and you will have a hand made Mardi Gras mask. Go out and enjoy yourself.

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