New Orleans is best known for its pre-Lenten Carnival celebration known as Mardi Gras, or ‘Fat Tuesday’. This massive celebration takes place every year on the weeks leading to the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the Catholic Lenten Season. The tradition of Mardi Gras has spread across the country to cities including Galveston, Texas and to Mobile, Alabama to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The celebrations are also full of time-honored traditions. Workman's Friend has made a list of some Mardi Gras traditions that will enhance your understanding of the celebrations.
SPORT THE RIGHT COLORS!
The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. The Krewe of Rex chose these colors in 1872 in part to honor the Russian Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov, who visited New Orleans during that year’s carnival season. The krewe asked the people of New Orleans to display the colors. The color purple was chosen to represent justice. The color green was chosen to represent faith. The color gold was chosen to represent power.
JOIN ONE OF THE KREWES
Mardi Gras krewes are social organizations that host balls or put on parades each carnival season. Some krewes have open membership, while others are highly exclusive or secretive. The two best-known krewes that parade on Mardi Gras day are the Krewe of Rex and the Krewe of Zulu. Krewes hold elaborate parties, known as balls, where members dress in traditional Mardi Gras costumes. Some of these parties will let non-members attend for a hefty price!
WATCH THE PARADES
The weeks leading to the last official day of celebration are filled with parades. The first documented Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans occurred in 1837. New Orleans will host around 75 parades each year. There are even Mardi Gras parades just for kids and just for pets! Yes, even pets dress up in Mardi Gras costumes and parade through the streets to strut their stuff!
MAKE YOUR OWN MASKS
One of the most treasured traditions for Mardi Gras are the traditional Mardi Gras masks. Some people paint their faces to look like they are wearing a mask, while others spend hundreds of dollars creating their own, original Mardi Gras mask using expensive beads and even real gems.
GRAB SOME BEADS AND DOUBLOONS
Beads were thrown from floats since the very first parades rolled down the streets of New Orleans. These first beads were made of glass, but krewes began throwing plastic beads in the mid twentieth century. Doubloons were first thrown by the Krewe of Rex in 1960. These coins featured the krewe’s founding date, emblem and name on one side, and the current year and theme of the parade on the other side. The doubloons were so popular that each krewe created its own. In addition to beads and doubloons, float riders today throw a variety of trinkets, including plastic cups and stuffed animals.
BEFORE YOU GO GRABBING UP BEADS, BE SURE AND READ THIS!
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