11 February 2018

Party on down, Cher...'Tis Mardi Gras time

Mardi Gras
a celebration of excess New Orleans style 

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.  It is the day before Ash Wednesday--when you give up luxuries for Lent.  Facing weeks of doing without the things they enjoy, people went on merrymaking binges, knowing they would have to remain in their homes and fast afterward.  Carnival is another word you see associated for the festive period.  It comes from Medieval Latin, meaning remove the meat.

While several places around the world celebrate Carnival, New Orleans is likely the best known.  The very first Mardi Gras celebration there took place in March 1699.  French explorers, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville, landed near what is known today as New Orleans.  Their party held a big celebration and christened the spot where they landed, calling it Pointe du Mardi Gras.

The King's Jester

Krewe Zulu Parade

The French settlers that followed celebrated the day with street parties, masquerade balls and lavish feasts.  However, when the Spanish took control of New Orleans, they were disgusted by the excesses, so they banned the celebrations and rituals.  This dictate remained until 1812 when Louisiana became a state.  In the late 1820s, groups of young men donned colorful costumes and paraded and danced through the streets.  The celebrations began to expand each year, until the first official Mardi Gras celebration was recorded about ten years later. 

The day is now a legal holiday in the state.

Krewe of Poseidon 

In the antebellum era of New Orleans the first Krewe was formed.  A Krewe is a secret society that sponsors a parade and ball.  The Mistick Krewe of Comus set the tone for all Mardi Gras celebrations thereafter.  Now there are many Krewes:   Poseidon, Rex, Orpheus, Bacchus, Endymion, Hermes, and Zulu are just a few-- so many their parades have to be on different days or times.

Bourbon Street

some parades are during the day, some at night

It's not advisable to wait to the last minute to go join the magnificent celebrations.  Finding rooms near is impossible, so plan ahead, book ahead!  Be sure to part take of a Poor Boy sandwich, Gumbo, Beignets, and especially don't miss having a big slice of King Cake.


Krewe Leviathan 

King Cake and King Cake Donuts

Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler

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