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4-H teaches mask design for Mardi Gras

Fifth-graders across the county are getting an additional education through the Marengo County Extension Service through 4-H lessons.

Extension assistant agent Beth Wideman went to U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis last week to show students how to make masks for Mardi Gras, which will be Feb. 16 this year.

Mardi Gras — French for “Fat Tuesday” — is the final day before the season of Lent begins.

Lent is the period before Easter where those who observe it do without something in the spirit of fasting and personal cleansing before Easter. Lent lasts for 40 days, not counting Sundays, and is a period of penitence leading up to Easter.

Mardi Gras is a time of festival for those preparing to observe Lent. Ash Wednesday is the day that begins the Lenten season. In most Mardi Gras celebrations – including the famed Carnival of Rio de Janiero – celebrants wear masks and collect beads for good luck.

Wideman told the students that the lucky colors used in the masks are green, gold and purple.

Students took ordinary bandit masks and applied their own decorations, from glitter to feathers, to make their own unique facewear.

“We come once a month,” Wideman said. “Usually, I come for three days to U.S. Jones to cover all eight classes. We come out from October through April, doing programs.

“It’s all fifth grade, although there are a couple of schools in the county where we do fifth and sixth grades because the fifth grade is so small.

“Their self-expression is the big thing,” she said. “They get to be creative, and it’s outside of the classroom. They think it’s something not required. Just seeing how each one’s self-expression is different is really great!”

4-H has provided an extension of education for many, many years, and it continues to do so throughout Marengo County through the Extension Service. For more information, call 295-5959.