Most people would probably assume that Mardi Gras is just another name for Pancake Day. They’re the same thing, right? Well, sort of, but actually, Mardi Gras directly translates to ‘Fat Tuesday’, and plays a much bigger part in American culture than the lowly Pancake Day!
Mardi Gras is a French Catholic Celebration, usually celebrated on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. However, some people – who get really into the festivities – celebrate from as early as the beginning of January!
It’s celebrated in areas all across America but is extremely popular in places with French origins such as Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Eastern Texas. The biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in America take place in New Orleans where they throw a party so iconic it’s known all over the world!
There are many traditions that New Orleans residents indulge in over Mardi Gras. Since the mid-1700s parades and parties have been held there and nowadays there are up to 75 parades in the city over the period.
Every year as a part of the parades a royal party is selected. They are called the Krewes of the celebration – much like prom kings and queens. The royal party consists of a king and queen, and often dukes and maids. They ride on the Mardi Gras floats as a part of the celebration and are paraded in front of their ‘subjects’.
Masks are a key part of Mardi Gras costumes. This originated as a way for people to escape social constraints and talk to everyone as equals. This tradition is still around today! In fact people on the parade floats are actually required by law to wear masks disguising their identity. The only exceptions to this are celebrities and Krewe royalty.
Bead necklaces are often thrown by bystanders onto the floats. They are most often in the Mardi Gras colours of gold, purple and green. The necklaces have symbols of the Krewe royalty and Christian symbols of power, justice and faith. Beads are worn throughout the celebrations and aren’t taken off until the next day! When the beads are taken off Lent can finally begin!
Even though Mardi Gras is an experience you’ll never forget, New Orleans is not just famous for its celebrations. You only have to visit Bourbon Street on any night of the year to have the best party of your life!