Happy Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, refer to “events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Epiphany or Kings day and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday (Wikipedia)“. It celebrates the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before fasting for Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, and has its origins rooted in medieval Europe.
To celebrate, people often wear masks and costumes and participate in dancing, sports competitions and parades. While not observed nationally in the U.S., traditionally French cities and regions in the country have notable celebrations, such as New Orleans, LA.
WeatherBug’s New Orleans forecast shows rain showers Tuesday and a chance of rain Wednesday night, so be sure to pack an umbrella and a coat!
There are 5 main traditions of Mardi Gras in New Orleans — here are the real meanings behind these traditions:
- Wearing of Masks – During early Mardi Gras celebrations hundreds of years ago, people wore masks to escape class constraints and social demands. While wearing a mask, participants could mingle with people from different classes.
- The Flambeaux Tradition – Flambeaux, French for flame-torch, was a tradition where slaves or free African Americans carried shredded rope, soaked in resin, through the streets so nighttime revelers could enjoy festivities after dark. Today, flambeaux carriers have transformed the tradition into a performance, dancing and spinning their kerosene lights.
- The Throwing of Beads – The color of the beads was determined by the king of the first daytime Carnival in 1872. He wanted the colors to be royal colors – purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith. The idea behind this tradition was to toss the color to the person who exhibited the color’s meaning.
- Rex, the King of Carnival – Each year in New Orleans, a king is crowned by the Rex Organization and referred to as Rex. The very first Rex was the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia and since, each Rex has been a prominent person in New Orleans. The Rex is given the ‘Key to the City’ by the Mayor.
- Handing Out Zulu Coconuts – The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club is one of the oldest traditionally black parade hosts in Mardi Gras history. The organization hands out Zulu coconuts, called “golden nuggets”, with the earliest reference to these coconuts appearing in 1910. The first coconuts were handed out in their normal, hairy state, but years later, Zulu members started painting and decorating them before handing them out. Getting a Zulu coconut is one of the most sought after traditions during Mardi Gras.
Party Hard. Know Before™.
The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team