Mardi Gras is a couple of weeks away. It is time to purchase your Mardi Gras costumes and beads by the bucketful. Most people know that Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday and it is cause for celebration, especially in the French Quarter of New Orleans where it first became popular. However, aside from wearing purple, green and gold Mardi Gras costumes and collecting Mardi Gras beads, the average person doesn’t really know much more about this centuries old celebration.
We have condensed Mardi Gras into a little nutshell of information to help you better understand and enjoy the most wild and crazy holiday of the year.
- Mardi Gras – It is a Christian holiday that begins at the Epiphany and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. It is a time or raucous celebrating before you begin your fasting for Lent. It is sort of like your last chance to get your ya-yas out.
- Purple, Green and Gold – These are the official colors of Mardi Gras the represent justice, faith and power, respectively. The colors are said to have been chosen by Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia during 1872. The colors were given their meaning in 1892 for the Rex Parade.
- Rex Parade – This is the big parade in New Orleans. The other is the Zulu parade. Both end on Canal Street with one huge party in the streets. Here is a full list of Nola Mardi Gras parades.
- Krewes – Krewes are the groups that operate and ride on parade floats. They toss beads and other trinkets into the crowd. Each Krewe has a theme. It is expected that you wear a Mardi Gras costume if you are a Krewe member.
- Mardi Gras Costumes – Spectators also enjoy dressing up. The common theme is the royal court so you will find most Mardi Gras costumes are kings, queens and jesters. If you choose not to wear a Mardi Gras costume, you should wear the official colors. There are plenty of Mardi Gras accessories like vests and hats that would do the trick. Masks are also a big component of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday is the only day of the year that you are allowed to conceal your identity in public. The idea behind the mask is that you can act wild and crazy without the consequences because no one will know it is you. By law, people that ride on floats MUST wear masks.
- Mardi Gras Beads – Beads are also referred to as “throws” because they are tossed into the crowd by parade Krewes. The tradition of baring oneself in exchange for beads is a relatively new tradition and by all means is NOT required. The common shout of, “Hey mister, throw me something,” will suffice.
So those are the basics. The primary goal is to have a wild party. You can celebrate Mardi Gras anywhere. All you need are Mardi Gras costumes, Mardi Gras beads and a group of friends that love a good time. Bon Mardi Gras! Temps pour célébrer!