Mardi Gras is just around the corner! This year, the Christian holiday and popular cultural event falls on Tuesday, February 21st , but the whole month of February is considered Mardi Gras month! Although New Orleans holds the biggest Mardi Gras party, people all over the world celebrate in their own ways. What are you doing to get prepared for this Carnival celebration?
The origins of Mardi Gras can be linked back to Medieval Europe, but it came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Iberville. The first celebration was held just miles south of present day New Orleans, at a spot named “Point du Mardi Gras.” People have been celebrating this holiday ever since with street parties, lavish dinners, and parades (the first parade occurring in 1837). Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and it refers to the last night of eating those yummy, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. The holiday is sometimes also called “Shrove Tuesday” or “Carnival Season.”
Mardi Gras traditions include wearing costumes and attending social events with music, parades, floats and excitement. Everyone wears three main vibrant colors; green, purple and gold. Along with these colors, people sport flashy beads, beautiful masks, and usually dress up in anything imaginable!
Fun Fact #1: The only state that Mardi Gras is actually legal in is Louisiana.
Fun Fact #2: The official colors for Mardi Gras have meaning. Purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power!
Fun Fact #3: One of the most popular Mardi Gras traditions is the King Cake- a coffee cake with a plastic baby inside! Whoever finds the doll in their piece of the cake is said to have good luck for the next year and is responsible for bringing the next cake. Every year there are over 500,000 king cakes sold locally, and 75,000 shipped to other states.
Fun Fact #4: A popular saying in New Orleans is “laissez le bon temps roulez”, in English this means “let the good times roll!”
Fun Fact #5: Even after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the city decided they would still celebrate Mardi Gras despite the devastation.
The Mardi Gras symbol, the “Fleur De Lis“, is a must-have for this celebration. The English translation is “flower of the lily,” representing French loyalty, perfection and life. You can find this decorative figure on belly rings, rings, earrings, necklaces, plugs, nipple rings, and just about any piece of jewelry that a carnival-goer would show off.