Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 21, 2019 / Blanche Durham
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 traditional Mardi Gras King cake is thought to have been derived from this need to use up perishable items. Today Carnival and Mardi Gras are celebrated in many different fashions. Some only celebrate on the actual Tuesday before Ash Wednesday while others take full advantage of the time and attend many luncheons masked balls and parades. Parades are generally the highlight for the majority of those who observe Mardi Gras and though Mobile and New Orleans have the biggest and oldest celebrations many other communities all along the Gulf Coast are forming their own societies.
Though debutante balls and other high society events marking the holiday are still prominent they are no longer the only way to participate in the excitement. A trip to New Orleans during Carnival season is highly recommended if you wish to see everything first-hand but if that is too long a way from home try setting up a Carnival parade in your city or neighborhood. You need to organize some participants get plenty of festive decorations and start thinking of the most outrageous costumes not to mention get the permission and cooperation of local authorities. If that is hard to come by throwing a Carnival-themed party is another great way of sharing the thrill of Mardi Gras.