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Mardi Gras history

Mardi Gras is February 21st this year, and with it comes music, parades, krewes, beads, and celebration! You can find a mask or create a costume and head to New Orleans, or you can look for splashes of the holiday to show up in towns like yours. It’s a big celebration, but what is it exactly and how did the whole thing get started?

The “Fat Tuesday” gala started a long time ago, actually way back in 1857. Mardi Gras marks the last day of the Carnival season, a period of rich feasting and frivolity which follows Epiphany and is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. It’s a floating holiday and the date of Mardi Gras varies slightly because it must fall 47 days before Easter Sunday.

The traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green have their roots in political and religious arenas. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. In 1872 some businessmen invented a King of the Carnival festivities named Rex and the first Rex selected the colors and the significance they hold today. A new Rex is chosen each year by the School of Design in New Orleans, the sponsors of the Rex parade. In the “city that care forgot,” the parade champions make sure that visitors and natives alike follow Rex who will always set their hearts to music with “If ever I cease to love.”

Here are some extra Mardi Gras fun facts:

• Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”

• Mardi Gras celebrations have their origins in the ancient Roman festival, Lupercalia. It is considered the last great indulgence before the 40-day fasting period of Lent.

• Mardi Gras migrated to the United States by way of many French influences, including French explorer Pierre le Moyne d’Iberville in the Louisiana territory in 1699.

• The first Mardi Gras parade in the United States was in 1837.

• The official colors of Mardi Gras: green (faith), purple justice), and gold (power).

• Krewe: a non-profit organization or club participating in a parade.

• The first “throw” (beads or small trinkets) happened in 1871 when a krewe member dressed up as Santa Claus and tossed gifts to parade revelers.

So, how are you going to celebrate Mardi Gras? Try making a famous King Cake, decorating fun masks, or throw a party!


Comments on: "Mardi Gras history" (2)

  1. Hello Cherokee Billie!
    This is a very awaited holiday time for Brazilians. The huge parade in Rio de Janeiro attracts people from the all over the world. It is famous for the original an rich costumes and for the samba school parade. The ones participating are evaluated and the prize is often a lot of money, which the samba school invests in the planning of their parade the following year.

    In Bahia, a state in the north of Brazil, the festivities are even huger. They have enourmous sound cars and the singers sing to several million of people. And when the Ash Wednesday cames, they are still dancing, singing and “sambing”. Carnival is a very famous 5-day-party in Brazil. Some clubs celebrate everyday. But the most famous of all is in Rio. It is really beautiful and worth watching it.

    I particularty don’t like this time very much. I prefer to enjoy the holidays to relax, sleep, read and exercise. This year, however, things are tough. My husband is not doing very well (his prostate is huge and with this, all the subsequent problems come….) So, I thank God I do not have to go to work, so that I can take care of him.

    Best wishes,
    Karina de Cillo

    • Dear Karina:
      Thank you for taking us through carnival In Brazil! I can only begin to imagine the festivities and you make them vivid for me. So many people enjoy this time of the year and I guess it’s a chance to let go and have fun. I am like you I prefer to be quiet and celebrate things in a peaceful manner. So sorry to hear about your husband. I hope that he recovers quickly and you can return to work. I will keep both of you in my prayers.
      Many blessings,
      Cherokee Billie

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