It has been an iconic tradition for New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras every year. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a Christian feasting period every Shrove Tuesday or the day before the start of Lent season on Ash Wednesday. New Orleans has been indulging in this carnival for so long and taking this on another level with extravagant parties and parades, making it even a Louisiana state holiday.
New Orleans called Mardi Gras "Fat Tuesday" because it is a celebration where they consume various kinds of fatty foods before giving them up on the Lent season. If you want to attend a Mardi Gras celebration, here are ten amazing things you must know about the carnival.
1. New Orleans Starts Mardi Gras Every January 6
The annual celebration of Mardi Gras usually takes place twelve days after Christmas (January 6). It will hold its culminating activities until Fat Tuesday, where there are parties, balls, and celebrations. Partygoers traditionally wear masks and Mardi Gras outfits and attend colorful parades.
2. Alabama Held The First Mardi Gras, Not New Orleans
During Fat Tuesday in 1699, a French-Canadian explorer named Pierre le Moyne d'Iberville visited Mobile, Alabama. He named the place Point di Mardi Gras and created a small party. Since then, many French travelers would go to the place to celebrate Fat Tuesday. Until now, Alabama held the title of being the first place to celebrate Mardi Gras.
3. A Russian Royalty Has Visited New Orleans To Attend Mardi Gras
In 1872, Grand Duke Alexis Romanov Alexandrovich went to Louisiana to attend Mardi Gras celebrations. This Grand Duke is the brother of the heir of the Russian throne during those times. It was a great honor for New Orleans to have a Russian royalty celebrate with them.
4. Purple, Green, And Gold Are The Traditional Colors Of Mardi Gras
The welcoming committee gave green, gold, and purple beads to the partygoers when Grand Duke Alexis attended Mardi Gras in 1872. They had chosen these colors because these were the colors of his home. Later on, New Orleans has given these colors meanings and symbolization, where green stands for faith, gold for power, and purple for justice.
5. New Orleans Anoints One Ruler As The King Of The Carnival Every Year
The Krewe of Rex anointed one ruler to be the carnival's king during the 1872's Mardi Gras celebration. The anointing was to honor the arrival of the Grand Duke Alexis Romanov Alexandrovich to New Orleans. Since then, people have been choosing one ruler every year, and the mayor presents the King of Rex to the city with a symbolic key.
6. A Secret Society Helped The Mardi Gras Celebration From Being Banned
The Mardi Gras celebration has been regularly banned and canceled from the early 1700s to 1837 due to its destructive drunken parties. However, a secret society, Mistick Krewe of Comus, came in 1837 to replace the debauchery with parades and galas. They turned Mardi Gras into a thrilling celebration that everyone awaits.
From that year, the Mardi Gras celebrations of New Orleans have received much enthusiasm and support, making the place the Mardi Gras capital of the country.
7. More Than 70 Secret Societies Join Mardi Gras
On every Fat Tuesday, each Krewe needs to build a float to represent a particular theme. They can also feature celebrities or guests to impress the crowd.
In today's Mardi Gras celebrations, more than 70 Krewes are attending the carnival. One of the well-known secret societies is the Krewe of Chewbacchus, which portrays the characters of Star Wars mixed with the Greek god of wine.
8. Each Krewe Float Throws Objects As Party Favors To Partygoers
The code "throw me something, master" is very famous during Fat Tuesdays. It is to ask someone from a float to throw party favors to the crowd. People of New Orleans believed that receiving something from the Krewes was an honor.
Krewes may give various objects, such as coconut from Krewe of Zulu, gold doubloons and stuffed animals from Krewe of Rex, or beads that are usually from any float.
9. King Cakes Of Mardi Gras Has A Biblical History
During Medieval times, Belgian, French, and Spanish cultures commemorate the 12th day of Christmas with gifts and sweets. Biblically, the kings would bring these things for the newborn baby Jesus. Due to this culture, the name "king cake" existed.
King cakes of Mardi Gras are usually in Mardi Gras colors: purple, green, and gold. People will fry, glaze, and cover these cakes with frost. King cakes are also circular and braided to symbolize a king's crown.
Traditionally, people will insert tiny baby figurines inside king cakes. Whoever finds the toy will be the next to hold a big party.
10. New Orleans Prohibits Wearing Masks Except On Mardi Gras
You must know these things first before attending a Mardi Gras celebration. In that case, you can avoid unintentionally disrespecting their tradition and prevent having culture shocks. Mardi Gras is one of the best carnivals, so you might as well indulge in the fun it brings!