Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 21, 2019 / Blanche Durham.
Mardi Gras Indians have been parading in New Orleans at least since the mid-19th century possibly before. It is February 24th/25th but we are extending the celebrations. Mardi Gras weekend kicks off on the Friday before February 24th with the Merchants Parade and the weekend holds all sorts of fun from gumbo cook-offs to Cajun food and music Children s activities various parades and the grand finale is the Krewe of Krewes Parade on Carl day. The parades are a big attraction. Get the Parade Schedule -- Since this is the main attraction for most visitors to Mardi Gras it s important to get the parade schedule as soon as possible so you can plan your itinerary.
Characterized by costumes bright decorations and general merriment often induced by the consumption of alcohol the celebration came close to being banned several times during the 19th century but the formation of a social organization (krewe) by six men and the resulting Carnival Parade on the evening of Mardi Gras in 1857 rejuvenated and restructured the mayhem. Though the festivities were halted for the duration of the Civil War they resumed in full force upon its conclusion. New krewes have been formed continuously since the first parade and are added as space allows annually.
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.
Behind the band come six "strong men" from the village often the tradition of carrying the torch or flambeaux is passed from father to son as the elder gets on in years. They sometimes have a helper walking beside them just in case. It s a hard and difficult job. The torches are similar in length to a caber and have been soaked for many months to ensure they stay alight. The flambeaux are then followed by many floats in which the local inhabitants deck both the float and themselves out in a variety of colours and costumes. Many are topical political statements. The more whisky that s handed around the waiting crowd the funnier they seem.
In the early 90 s people began to tire of the thin strands of plastic beads and would actually just leave them laying on the ground so some krewe members began to throw larger beads or novelty type beads with a theme. So why throw Mardi Gras beads? There is a school of thought that the beads or representative of the jewelry that was worn by royalty. People stand on the side of the road begging trinkets. "Throw me something Mister" is a phrase you can hear over and over again. If you catch the eye of a krewe member they will reward you by throwing a string of beads or more to you.