Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mardi Gras in the Southern US States

New Orleans Celebration Costumes

Mardi Gras is a Christian holiday and popular cultural phenomenon that dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. Also known as Carnival or Carnaval, it’s celebrated in many countries around the world—mainly those with large Roman Catholic populations—on the day before the religious season of Lent begins. 

Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain, and England.  Brazil, Venice and New Orleans played host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.

Tradition for Thousands of Years
Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. The excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.


What Does Mardi Gras Mean?
Mardi is the French word for Tuesday, and gras means “fat.”  In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”

Lilac, Gold, and Green are the colors for Mardi Gras

Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the rich, fatty foods—meat, eggs, milk, lard, cheese—that remained in their homes, in anticipation of several weeks of eating only fish and different types of fasting.

New Orleans Mardi Gras
The first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when French explorers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville landed near present-day New Orleans, Louisiana. They held a small celebration and dubbed their landing spot Point du Mardi Gras.

In the decades that followed, New Orleans and other French settlements began marking the holiday with street parties, masked balls, and lavish dinners. When the Spanish took control of New Orleans, however, they abolished these rowdy rituals, and the bans remained in force until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.

The heart of Mardi Gras will always be in New Orleans, Louisiana, but there are some crazy-amazing celebrations and parades during the forty days of carnival in other coastal cities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and even Florida just to name a few of the US States where the carnival is celebrated. 
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