The History of Mardi Gras

Well as some of you know Mardi Gras season is here in New Orleans, it began on January 6, 2012. This is the “Twelfth Night” and so Carnival began. The carnival season will end on Fat Tuesday or in French Mardi Gras. This is a celebration that celebrates the coming of The Three Wise Men bearing their gifts to Jesus, 12 days after he was born. Every year it falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which  begins the Lent season and it ultimately culminates on Easter.

Every year for Mardi Gras we have King Cake parties, it is a big part of Mardi Gras. The baking of the cake is to honor the three kings. The cake is circular to signify the circular route the wise men took to get to Jesus, they took the circular route to confuse the King who was trying to kill Jesus. Early on in the inside the cake you could find a pea, a bean or a coin, whoever found this item in their piece of cake was considered “King for the day” and was said to have good luck throughout the coming year. The bean, pea and coin have since been replaced with a little plastic baby to represent Jesus. Whoever gets the baby now is expected to bring the next King Cake, or host the next party.

The colors of Mardi Gras are Purple symbolizing Justice, Green symbolizing Faith, and Gold symbolizing Power.

Mardi Gras was started in New Orleans sometime in the 1700’s, while New Olreans was still under French rule, it was celebrated in Europe long before with a circus like atmosphere. When the Spanish came to rule New Orleans it was banned. In 1803 New Orleans became US owned but Mardi Gras and the masked balls were still banned, it wasn’t until 1823 when the Creole population convinced the mayor to allow masked balls to continue, masked balls weren’t legalized until 1827. The first parade happened in 1827 and was held by masked street walkers and people with horse and carriage. In the 1840’s to the early 1850’s Mardi Gras  got a negative reputation due to people in masks being violent, and people started calling for an end to the celebration.

Six New Orleanians saved Mardi Gras by coming up with the Krewe of Comus, they showed everyone could have fun and be safe. They also introduced the flambeaux, which is men carrying flaming torches, they were there to light the way for the floats. They used to be slaves of the men who rode on the floats, and people tossed coins at them, while the flambeaux carriers of today are all free men throwing coins at them is a tradition that continues. Comus used to be the last parade that ran on Mardi Gras night, and they still used horse and carriage when they ran. They have since withdrawn from parading, because they wouldn’t sign a bill that said they would not discriminate against anyone based on race, sex or religion. They still have a ball on Mardi Gras night.

Many parades have since been added to the Mardi Gras schedule, and they happen all over the New Orleans Metro area, during the two weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday.

The first parade is still a couple weeks away it will be on February 4th, the Krewe du Vieux will roll in the French Quarter it will be followed by Krewe Delusion . The first parade in Metairie, is the Krewe of  The Little Rascals and it is always on the first Sunday of Mardi Gras it is a children’s parade, and was formed in 1983 and will roll on February 5, 2012.

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2 thoughts on “The History of Mardi Gras

  1. Oh Great. I’ve been craving a King Cake for days and you have a pic of it. I’m thinking it’s a sign for me to get one….LOL

    Great story.

    Marie/Rosybud123

    • LOL I got that cake from Walmart this weekend, good thing my kids weren’t home when I came home or it would have been gone, and I wouldn’t have been able to get a pic of it!!

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