As a white chick from Pleasant Grove that grew up Mormon, I knew very little about Mardi Gras. I could spell it, I knew beads were somehow involved, and I had a feeling that it took place somewhere in the South. Years later, I’m still a white chick and I still know very little about this pre-Lenten festival. But guess what? I now have the power of the World Wide Web to help me learn more about Fat Tuesday, plus I have my power of editorship to bring you these findings in print. So, without furthering this awkward beginning, let’s look into the fascinating facts of Mardi Gras:
*Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated most often in Roman Catholic communities. It is a time of preparation right before Ash Wednesday and the start of the fast of Lent. Basically, Mardi Gras is the last hoorah before giving up all of those terribly fun indulgences, such as certain foods and alcohol. The celebration includes phenomenal parades with floats, pageants, dazzling costumes and, let’s face it, drunk girls flashing their boobs for beads.
*Originated as one of the many carnival days held in Roman Catholic countries between Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras festivities are now held in cities such as New Orleans, LA; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Nice, France; and Cologne, Germany.
*In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile (now Mobile, AL) celebrated the first Mardi Gras.
*New Orleans was established in 1718 and shortly thereafter began to openly celebrate Mardi Gras by holding elegant society balls. It wasn’t until a century later that parades became a part of the celebration.
*Mardi Gras became a legal holiday in Louisiana in 1875.
*Rex, the King of Carnival, chose the colors of Mardi Gras and assigned meaning to them in 1892. Purple stands for justice, green represents faith, and gold symbolizes power.
*Carnival and Mardi Gras are not the same thing. Carnival refers to the period of feasting and fun which takes place on Jan. 6, otherwise known as The Feast of the Epiphany. As mentioned above, Mardi Gras is the final day of revelry before Ash Wednesday.
*Float riders must, by law, always wear a mask.
*A Krewe (pronounced like “crew”) is an organization that puts on a parade or a ball for the Carnival season, such as Mardi Gras. Krewe members are assessed fees in order to pay for the parade and/or ball. Fees can be anywhere from twenty dollars to thousands of dollars a year per person.
*Mardi Gras generates over one billion dollars in annual spending.
*The 2010 Mardi Gras celebration marks the one hundred and seventy-third year of parading in New Orleans.