Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 20, 2019 / Bobbi Oneil
It is the twelfth day of Christmas the Epiphany and celebrates the day that the three wise men found and worshipped the baby Jesus. In communities where Carnival is observed Epiphany marks the beginning of the season and the last day is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday Mardi Gras day. The word Carnival is taken from the Latin and is literally translated as "farewell to the flesh". The Carnival season is time of merriment and brief season of feasting before the somber time of Lent. Some experiments have reasoned that the custom actually began as a way to use any meat eggs and milk before Lent began so that no items were left to waste during the forty day long fasting period.
After the founding of the Mystic Krewe of Comus in 1857 (and their nighttime torch-lit parade) the Krewe Of Rex established several key factors that would become staples for the entire Carnival tradition in 1872: the Mardi Gras flag the official colors of purple green and gold and the "royal anthem" of a song titled "If Ever I Cease To Love." In classic New Orleans style the song comes from a burlesque show entitled "Blue Beard" and features some of the craziest lyrics this side of a Christina Aguilera National Anthem performance: "If Ever I Cease To Love If Ever I Cease To Love/May cows lay eggs and fish grow legs If Ever I Cease To Love." Our very own Edward Branley recently told the fascinating story of how these insane lyrics have anything to do with Mardi Gras.
In honor of the celebration that he knew was taking place in France on that very day he named the spot Point du Mardi Gras. As more settlers arrived from France the customs that they had practiced there slowly began to take shape into what we now know as Mardi Gras. As popular as Mardi Gras has become in the United States most people only know half of the Mardi Gras tradition. While many know that the celebration is related to Lent what many do not know is that it is also related to Christmas. Carnival as the actual season is known begins on the same date every year. Only the actual date of Mardi Gras changes. This date to kick of the Carnival season is January 6. The date is also referred to as 12th night.