Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 19, 2019 / Laurel Hawkins
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.
The major parades originate in the Uptown and Mid-City districts and pass through St Charles Avenue and Canal Street. After the main Zulu and Rex parades have passed through a number of smaller parades with truck floats and walking clubs make their way around the city. Spectators can revel in the colours and excitement of the parades costumes masks and catching as many of the famous beads as they can. Mardi Gras is an event that is being awaited by millions of people throughout the US. It is an event where a lot of people from all over the United States fly over to New Orleans to be a part of the mega celebrations.