Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 21, 2019 / Eve Owen
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.
The parades in New Orleans now begin up to three weeks before Mardi Gras with the Carnival season officially starting on the January 6th the Feast of Epiphany. The French Quarter of the city is the heart of the celebration which concludes promptly at midnight on Mardi Gras with the police asking revelers to scatter and the massive clean up getting under way. The krewe system was originally a hierarchical method that showcased the elite of the Carnival and usually New Orleans society. However in the latter part of the 20th century the exclusivity of the krewes was tempered by the formation of new more democratic krewes for which no credentials were required.
Rio s Mardi Grad carnival is famed not only for its brilliant parades but its street parties the biggest of which is held on Cinelândia Square brimming with acclaimed orchestras and singers for people to dance the night away. The elaborate parades staged by the city s major samba schools in the Sambadrome are world famous. Parading in the Sambadrome runs over four entire nights and is part of an official competition divided into seven divisions in which a single samba school is declared that year s winner. As well as the five main parades visitors can enjoy the Carnival balls held around the city including the famous Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel which requires guests to wear black tie or a luxury costume and often a number of international and local VIPs are in attendance.