A Few Facts About Mardis Gras


Mardis Gras 2019 just ended on March 5—did you miss it? It was a lengthy season, as it is every year, ending on “Fat Tuesday.” This carnival season is celebrated in countries all over the world. Many get involved in planning activities that stretch out the fun of Mardis Gras, with all the preparation for parties, wearing flamboyant costumes, and cutting loose. Learn what it’s all about, and it could give you something to look forward to. Fat Tuesday in 2020 is February 25; as always, the final day of celebration is exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday.


What is Mardis Gras all About?

The history of Mardis Gras goes back thousands of years to pagan spring festivals. In ancient Rome, festivals involving feasting and masquerades carried on earlier traditions. Today, Mardis Gras practices commonly include parades, dancing, balls, wearing masks, and participating in competitive sports. What it’s really about nowadays is linked to the Catholic Church. Christians supposedly enjoy some guilty pleasures before Ash Wednesday, which is the first of 40 days in which something is sacrificed for the season of Lent. And Lent is the six-week period that leads up to Easter. However, everyone is welcome to participate in the crazy-fun activities of Mardis Gras, with or without religious ties.


Is Mardi Gras a Holiday?

Since 1582, Mardis Gras has been an official holiday, as proclaimed by Pope Gregory XIII. He placed the holiday on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardis Gras made its way to North America in the late 17th century, thanks to the LeMoyne brothers. A party was thrown to introduce the celebration in 1699, and it took place on the Mississippi River.


Where Was our First Official Mardis Gras?

In North America in 1703, Mobile, Alabama, was the first city to have a Mardis Gras celebration. New Orleans, Louisiana, holds the biggest Mardis Gras party in the U.S. every year, but its first was 15 years after Mobile established the tradition. The first time floats became part of the New Orleans Mardis Gras parade was in 1857.


What are Mardis Gras Beads?

Although a Santa Claus in New Orleans is credited with being the first to throw beads at a parade, Mardis Gras adopted the idea and beads became a hit from the first time they were thrown, sometime in the late 1800s. An estimated 1.4 million people attend the New Orleans Mardis Gras each year, and collecting beads is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Traditionally, Mardis Gras beads are green, purple, and gold. Green symbolizes faith, purple stands for justice, and gold represents power. Beads are by no means the only things thrown at Mardis Gras parades, however. Other items tossed to people along the parade routes including aluminum coins known as doubloons and Moon Pies.


Mardis Gras is Big Business

Although cities everywhere often plan their own Mardis Gras celebrations, people flock to certain cities throughout the world. New Orleans is one of those places. Mardis Gras is a very large part of the city’s local economy, bringing in up to $500 million annually.


Is Mardis Gras for You?

Mardis Gras celebrations are, in essence, wild parties where you can dress as crazy as you want. The atmosphere is unsuitable for children, other than daytime parades specifically for young ones. Dangers of Mardis Gras include violence, drugs, and free-flowing alcohol. “Raunchy” is a good word to describe Mardis Gras activities. However, it is much loved by millions and could be something you want to plan on attending next year.





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