Bent's RV Blog

  • Published on Feb 22, 2016
    Why is Mardi Gras a New Orleans Thing?

    Mardi Gras is celebrated the Tuesday evening before the Lenten season (lent) begins. Over the years this particular Tuesday has gained a number of nicknames, but is most commonly referred to as Fat Tuesday. Since the Lent season involves fasting, many consider Fat Tuesday as the “one last hoorah” before beginning the 40 day fast. Mardi Gras has become the celebration name of the Fat Tuesday festivities.

    Although Lent and Mardi Gras are observed all over the world, New Orleans seems to be the one city that is always associated with the celebration. Why is that?

    Here’s a nutshell version of the story of Mardi Gras and how it wound up in New Orleans:

     

    Medieval Europe: The Mardi Gras traditions originally started in Medieval Europe and traveled through Rome and Venice and eventually into the French House of Bourbons. Mardi Gras was warmly welcomed by the French and eventually traveled with them to their colonies.

     

    1699: Canadian-French explorer Bienville and his men arrived on a plot of land just south of New Orleans on Fat Tuesday and named the land Point du Mardi Gras to commemorate the holiday. Bienville and his men eventually settled in what is now Mobile and there celebrated the first American Mardi Gras in 1703.

     

    1703-1710: The first Mardi Gras Krewes were created in Mobile. in 1710 the Boeuf Gras Society was formed and paraded through the town with a large bulls head pushed around on wheels by 16 men, symbolizing the fattened calf. And so parades and krewes were formed.

     

    1718: New Orleans was finally established by Bienville and openly celebrated Mardi Gras, though not quite as we see it today. It wasn’t until the 1740s that Louisiana Governor Marquis de Vaudreuil created elegant society balls, which are still held to this day. The societies began to become more popular and simultaneously more exclusive. Therefore, each society began  parading as well as attending these balls.

    Mardi Gras festivities began being advertised in the newspapers in advance so that Louisiana citizens would come out to attend. Each society would create a float of sorts to parade around as part of the traditional festivities, and by 1872 it became the norm.

     

    1872 was the year that several businessmen of New Orleans established a King of Carnival, Rex, to reign over the daytime parade as they welcomed Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff. To honor the Grand Duke, the businessmen decided to make the Duke’s family colors, purple, gold, and green the Carnival’s official theme colors. Gold represents power, green for faith, and purple for justice. The colors stuck and are still the symbolic colors of Mardi Gras to this day!

     

    1875 Louisiana Governor Warmoth signed the Mardi Gras Act which issued that Fat Tuesday had become a legal holiday to be observed throughout Louisiana. This act is still standing to this day as well.

     

    Maybe it’s the heavy French influence in New Orleans, or simply the fact that Fat Tuesday is an official holiday in the state of Louisiana, or a combination of several other factors, but whatever the reason may be, New Orleans is the home of Mardi Gras and arguably honors it more thoroughly than any other location in the world.

     

    Bents RV:

    Nothing will help you recover from your Mardi Gras hoorah like some of our crazy RV Special deals. If you’re still in the area, or looking to visit soon, stop in and see us at Bents RV.  

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