The History of Mardi Gras Traditions

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Mardi Gras is only a couple of weeks away, and before you pack your RV with beads and costumes, it's important to understand why you're celebrating these awesome traditions in the first place. Once you understand the history of Mardi Gras, you'll appreciate the fun you have in New Orleans even more.

The History of Mardi Gras

The celebration of Mardi Gras is far from a new tradition. Thousands of years ago, it began as a pagan celebration of fertility and springtime. It's said that the original Mardi Gras celebrations were Saturnalia and Lupercalia -- two rowdy festivals that originated in Rome. As Christianity advanced in Rome, a number of festivals were combined into one giant pre-Lent festivity. The debauchery spread like wildfire throughout Europe.

Why Fat Tuesday?

In the days leading to Lent, believers would eat all of the meat, cheese, milk and eggs they had in their homes in preparation of the following weeks devoted to eating merely fish or fasting. This day of feasting later became known as "Fat Tuesday."

Similarly, the term for the Carnival festivities could have roots in the Medieval Latin term carnelevarium, which means, "to take away or remove meat."

Costumes in New Orleans

The first Louisiana Mardi Gras celebration was on March 3, 1699, when French explorers landed near what would later become New Orleans. For hundreds of years to follow, the celebration grew into a gathering of street parties, extravagant dinners and masked balls. The first ever Mardi Gras parade took place in 1837, in which participants wore colorful and extravagant costumes.

Continuing through the decades, the parades grew to include rolling floats, costumes and marching bands. Today, Louisiana is the only state that celebrates Mardi Gras as a legal holiday, but parties and other festivities are held throughout the country on Fat Tuesday and throughout the Mardi Gras season.

Bent's RV Rendezvous

At Bent's RV -- your home for RV service in Southern Louisiana -- we hope you'll come and celebrate Mardi Gras with us in New Orleans. When traveling in your RV to the festivities, don't forget to stop and see us for all of your RV sales, service, parts and accessories needs.

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Photo by abbamouse (Flickr Creative Commons)


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