The University of New Mexico hosted an event Tuesday to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent in Christianity. The festival traditionally comes from the city of New Orleans on the coast of Louisiana. Christians usually fast or give something up — like alcohol or meat — during Lent.

“The idea is that people indulge before the fasting for the holiday begins,” said Katie Dix, director of marketing and student programming for the SUB.

The University has a long-standing tradition of hosting an event to celebrate Mardi Gras, and the event always has traditional food such as jambalaya and king cake, she said.

Beaded necklaces are always worn at the Mardi Gras Festival in New Orleans and are traditionally green, purple and gold, Dax said. Each color symbolizes something — purple representing justice, green representing faith and gold symbolizing power, she said.

This year’s Mardi Gras event also featured a live jazz band and a table for students to decorate their own masks to wear at the event.

“It is traditional to wear a mask at Mardi Gras. The idea is to allow wearers to escape society and class restrains. For the festival people were free to mingle with whatever class they liked. People are free to be whoever they want to be for that day,” Dix said.

Dix hopes that when students attend events like these, they are able to experience cultures and traditions different than their own, she said.

The event allowed students to have a taste of New Orleans music and cuisine and was intended to spark conversation about culture and festivals, Dix said.

Megan Holmen is a freelance reporter for news and culture at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at, or on Twitter @megan_holmen.