With wars abroad, a struggling economy at home and violence plaguing the headlines, the world seems in need of a little frivolity right now, which is why we welcome the arrival of another Mardi Gras today.

Fat Tuesday celebrations throughout south Louisiana are a colorful tradition in this region, highlighting our area’s peculiar genius for having a good time. While other parts of the country close the holidays after New Year’s Day, carnival season in Louisiana is a nice way to extend the good cheer of yuletide and continue the spirit of giving. Mardi Gras also stands as a hinge of sorts between the cold weather of winter and the warming promise of spring which is just around the corner.

We know that Mardi Gras brings us to the threshold of Ash Wednesday, the start of a solemn season of reflection for Christians around the world. The quiet of Lent and its spirit of abstinence are a meaningful expression of the need to live by limits, to find meaning beyond the moment.

But in the meantime, Mardi Gras answers the more-frivolous human desire to live in the present — and not take life too seriously.