Mardi Gras Carnival in New Orleans is one of the most popular festivals which is celebrated with so much fan fare.
In fact, Each year millions of people visit New Orleans to become a part of what is described as the ‘greatest free party on earth’ i.e. Mardi Gras!
It is celebrated the world over and in some countries it is known by the name of Carnival Season.
However it is known to be more famous for being a part of New Orleans.
It begins on or after the Kings Day and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday.
It is known to have its roots in pre-Christian traditions. This post will give you a glimpse into the festival and its celebrations.
If you are thinking of being a part of this festival this year then definitely you will get some interesting ideas and tips about it.
Know More About Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday
The first Mardi Gras is known to have taken place on February 24, 1857 Krewe of Comus at New Orleans.
It basically started as a tradition where a parade was held which was followed by a ball for the krewe and their guests.
The carnival season is said to begin on January 6 which is said to be the Kings Day.
It was first mentioned by the French explorer Pierre le Moyne in his writings Sieur d’Iberville when he first settled on the banks of Missippi River in North America in 1699.
During the next century the festival moved to various other cites like Alabama, Houma, Louisiana, Alexandria etc. In French Mardi Gras means ‘Fat Tuesday’.
The name basically comes from the tradition of slaughtering the fattened cow which is accompanied with feasting on the last day of Carnival.
Some other names by which the festival is known are Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday and Fetter Dienstag.
Tracing the Roots of the Carnival
You will be quite surprised to know that the fun and frolic associated with Mardi Gras also has religious roots.
The carnival season begins with the Epiphany which is also known as Twelfth Night and Theophany.
Epiphany falls on January 6 (12 days after Christmas) which is said to be the day when the Three Kings visited Jesus Christ with gifts.
Epiphany finally kicks off a series of parades and merry making which finally leads to Mardi Gras.
Apart from having pagan and pre Christian origins, the festival is said to have been legitimized by the Roman Catholic Church as the celebrations start taking place before Lent.
So, it is known to occur 46 days before Easter. Some even consider it to be a late winter celebration which is designed to welcome the Spring season.
Highlights of Mardi Gras Carnival
Today Mardi Gras has become one of the biggest tourist attractions across the world.
Hotels and Restaurants are said to be booked in advance for the festival.
Various music bands gather together to become a part of the festivities in different streets corners, bars and parties.
Dance and music competitions are yet also very much popular during the festival.
At least two weeks before Fat Tuesday, residents of New Orleans as well as visitors enjoy and become a part of multitude of parades.
Millions of people take part in these parades wearing decorative masks and colorful costumes.
The parties continue till late night as the revelers enjoy ‘Nawlins’ music and taste delicious Cajun and Creole food.
Some of the popular practices include wearing masks and costumes at the parade, overturning social conventions.
It is widely held that in these parades you will have a look at some of the most unimaginative themes, outrageous costumes and spectacular floats which are not witnessed in any other part of the world.
Each parade has its own specific theme or subject while the floats reflect the krewe’s theme.
The masked members of the parade are dressed in accordance with the float title and parade theme.
Some of the popular themes loved the most by people include children’s stories, geography, mythology as well as stories of famous people.
Mardi Gras Carnival Masks
Cities World Over Most Famous for Fat Tuesday
Mardi gras is not observed nationally across United States but different cities across US have carnival celebrations owing to the French and Spanish influences over their history.
Well if you are thinking that it is only New Orleans which is famous for Fat Tuesday, then it’s not. There are some other cities across the world where too this festival is celebrated with great fervor.
Some of these include-
- Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil
- Barranquilla, Columbia
- Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
- Quebec City, Canada
- Mazatlan and Sinaloa, Mexico
- Louisiana, United States
So, if you are planning to travel to New Orleans for Fat Tuesday festival, make sure to read this post on “Ultimate Travel Guide to New Orleans, Mardi Gras”.