Bon Mardi Gras! That’s right, folks, Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday”, is fast approaching and we hope you’re as excited as we are. More than the entertaining parades and exciting throws, a ton of traditions were built over hundreds of years to made this Carnival truly fascinating. Here’s a peek into Mardi Gras’ history and how our celebrations stemmed from tradition.
Urban Kings and Queens
Most people might know that the organizations in charge of the parades are called “krewes”. However, did you know that they elect city royalty for the celebration? Most krewes would usually elect one of their members, but a few notable krewes bring in celebrities as their royal representative. These super krewes are most notable for their larger parades and an integral part of the holiday’s history.
Lighting the Way
Back in its earlier years, when streetlights were science fiction, the setting sun didn’t dampen everyone’s spirits and the revelries continued through the evening. To do this, people were assigned as “flambeaux carriers”, who carried extravagant torches to stave the darkness away. Not missing a beat, this role became part of the performance as the flames danced with the parade. You can still see these people today and continue to honor their efforts by tossing them coins.
Food is an integral part of any celebration because nobody can enjoy themselves on an empty stomach. For Mardi Gras, the most iconic item on the menu is the King Cake, a pastry that has taken many forms over the years. The most popular form would be a braided Danish pastry laced with cinnamon and adorned with purple, green, and gold icing. These sweet treats have more than sugar hiding underneath the surface, as it used to have a baby figurine tucked away in its dough.
The toy was meant to represent Jesus during the time he was visited by Three Kings. It is customary that whoever found the toddler in their slice would be the next person to buy cake. However, bakeries now only package the figure with the pastry, letting their customers experience the novelty to continue the tradition.
Among the beads, doubloons (Mardi Gras coins), and other items thrown into the crowd, you may be lucky enough to encounter the Zulu coconuts. Originating from a specific Krewe with the same name, it used to be simple coconuts, but changes were gradually added like painting the husk and covering it in glitter. As you can imagine, this can be a very dangerous practice, so nowadays these coconuts are simply handed out to the audience.
The Jolly Season Continues
Not one to waste a perfectly good tree, creative participants decided that their holiday decorations would fit well in their Mardi Gras festivities. By removing all Christmas-themed ornaments, their homes were easily shaped up to fit the day’s celebrations. To do this, simply accentuate the Mardi Gras primary colors, namely purple, green, and gold. This is the same concept as traditional Easter trees and Super Bowl Trees. For more inspiration, check out how our brand ambassador, Jennifer Perkins decorated her white and yellow Mardi Gras trees with DIY ornaments.
An International Festival
Beyond New Orleans, there are many other places that start the festivities with their own unique touch. Quebec City hosts the giant Quebec Winter Carnival, while tourists flock to Venice’s Carnevale for their famed masquerade balls. Brazil also has a week-long carnival inspired by European, African, and native traditions.
With so much to do, we’re more than excited to celebrate Mardi Gras with everyone! Are you ready to parade through the streets? Let us know how you prepared for this wonderful festival in the comment section below!by