Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 21, 2019 / Mara Beasley
The parade continues from one end of the village to the other with most of the village inhabitants either looking from their windows or standing on the pavements and cheering on the flambeaux carriers. The whole thing reaches it s climax after about 45 minutes when the torches are thrown off the bridge and into the River Earn with the idea that with them all the village demons then float away and arrive at the next village. Across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to New Orleans at the Mardi Gras parade the highlight for many is also the Flambeaux Procession.
The celebration of the last day before Lent dates back to at least the Middle Ages when men of noble lineage or accomplishment were knighted and formal banquets took place to honor the occasion. Mardi Gras which means Fat Tuesday in French as an alternate name for Shrove Tuesday was established in New Orleans while the city was under French control and was maintained as a major festival even when the territory was relinquished into Spanish hands as well as after the Louisiana Purchase was signed and the state of Louisiana officially joined the Union.
Masks made from pale pastel plumage with shiny sequins are standard fare at Mardi gras Carnival and masquerade parties. There s an allure and style to them possessed by no other costume element. Much is made of our desire to pretend and the imagination s ability to do so. Few activities give us the opportunity as readily as does the costume party. Frills and flourishes that have no other place are found in abundance at parades of show costume-clad dancers wearing yards of sequined fishnet and feathered elegance. None of it would have the same mystery without the elegance of the mask. These beautiful adornments have a history of their own that heralds back to court functions in pre-Revolutionary France. There s the hint of a palace in every feathery sequined one of them.