US The History Behind 5 of New Orleans' Favorite Mardi Gras Traditions

20:25  13 february  2018
20:25  13 february  2018 Source:   time.com

Louisiana Mardi Gras parade shooting kills man, hurts other

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And, though the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans originated in this Christian tradition , today the celebration is better known as a day for people of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to come together at the parades, eat Here’s an introduction to the history behind some of those popular traditions .

The countdown to Mardi Gras in New Orleans is well underway! As you plan for parades and mark the days until Fat Tuesday (February 13, 2018), learn about some of the most famous Mardi Gras traditions and where they came from.

a group of colorful flowers: Float riders toss beads, cups and doubloons to fans and revelers in the 2013 Krewe of Bacchus Mardi Gras Parade on Feb. 10, 2013, in New Orleans © Skip Bolen—Getty Images Float riders toss beads, cups and doubloons to fans and revelers in the 2013 Krewe of Bacchus Mardi Gras Parade on Feb. 10, 2013, in New Orleans In the Christian calendar, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, is a day to feast before the weeks-long fast that ends with Easter. While it’s many cities celebrate that last chance to party, which falls this Tuesday, no city is more famous for Mardi Gras — “Fat Tuesday” in French — than New Orleans.

And, though the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans originated in this Christian tradition, today the celebration is better known as a day for people of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to come together at the parades, eat great food, and compete to catch beads, doubloons and other throws from the people wearing masks on the floats parading down the streets.

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Explore the history behind six of the most famous Mardi Gras traditions , New Orleans -style. How long does Mardi Gras last? How many beads get thrown every year? Learn the facts and figures behind the big festivities in the Big Easy. Print.

- Larry Bannock, President, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council. We thank the Mardi Gras Indian Council for opening their history books, and sharing their history and traditions with us.

Here’s an introduction to the history behind some of those popular traditions.

Krewes

This term for the New Orleans clubs that organize the Mardi Gras festivities was coined by The Mystick Krewe of Comus, the group that put on the first parade in the city with themed floats — the model for future parades — in 1857. They started the tradition of wearing masks and carrying torches, known as flambeaux, to light the evening revelries. The organizers came from Mobile, Ala., which had been hosting similar festivities ever since French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville threw a party when he landed in the Gulf Coast city (which he called Point du Mardi Gras) on Fat Tuesday in 1699.

Though the krewes’ public parades meant the festivities could be seen by the general public, that didn’t mean anybody could participate in the clubs or attend the balls they held. Membership to five of the earliest clubs — Comus, Momus, Twelfth Night, Rex and Proteus — had been mostly closed to all but the moneyed elites. Not coincidentally, the number of these groups ballooned in the first half of the 20th century, as the populations left out formed their own: Italians, Germans, the Irish, women. African-Americans formed Zulu, the krewe famous for starting the tradition of handing coconuts in 1910 because they were less expensive than beads.

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Bring your school group to Mardi Gras World, where they can learn about New Orleans history and culture through the wonder of Mardi Gras . Come get a behind -the-scenes look as we build our props and floats for next year’s parades. Tour Prices for School Groups of 10 or More.

Mardi Gras . History and Tradition FAQs. Do I need tickets? Why are masks worn? How is a king chosen? How long have "throws" been around? How does Mardi Gras benefit the New Orleans economy?

Comus stopped parading in 1991, in response to a bill requiring the krewes to integrate.

Mardi Gras Colors

The Rex Organization — the group founded in 1872 that’s also famous for starting the tradition of naming a parading Carnival King — claims credit for the purple, green and gold color scheme now associated with Mardi Grass. That was the color-scheme of their 1892 “Symbolism of Colors” parade, and the three shades are said to symbolize justice, faith and power, respectively.

Masks and Costumes

Masks and costumes have been associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations for centuries. And even today of the masks commonly seen in New Orleans on Mardi Gras are the same types popularized by the two-to-three-week-long Carnivale in Venice that culminates with Fat Tuesday. But masking and costume-wearing in New Orleans also has a specifically American history, as it was another way for revelers who were officially excluded from the festivities to join in, by concealing their identities.

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The History behind the masking of the Mardi Gras Indians is an extremely rich one. "If I had a heart attack at 92, I'd still mask. - Larry Bannock, President, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council.

Mardi Gras History . Make your plans now to be a part of this great tradition and see firsthand why we say "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" Sincerely, Mitchell J. Landrieu Mayor of New Orleans .

This phenomenon was particularly pronounced during the Jim Crow era of the early 20th century. For example, the African-American men now known as Mardi Gras Indians first paraded down the city’s back streets in Native American costumes, in a nod to Native Americans who took in and protected runaway slaves. Another poignant example, according to Kim Marie Vaz’s The ‘Baby Dolls‘: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition, can be found in the African-American prostitutes who dressed up as “Baby Dolls” — a persona chosen because that’s what male clients called them — in hopes that the costumes would help them land work at a time when sex work was racially restricted.

These days, the Mardi Gras tradition has earned a special exemption from the Louisiana law that generally bans concealing or disguising one’s face in public.

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Beads and Throws

The throwing of beads and fake jewels, from parade floats to those watching down below, is thought to have started in the late 19th century, when a carnival king threw fake strands of gems and rings to his “loyal subjects” sometime in the 1890s. By the early 1920s, one of the Krewes, probably Rex, started regularly throwing strands of glass Czech beads, a precursor to the plastic beads seen today.

Cleaning krewe: Recycling effort targets Mardi Gras trash

  Cleaning krewe: Recycling effort targets Mardi Gras trash Mardi Gras produces days of merriment, indulgence, a few hangovers — and a lot of garbage. Once the parades have passed and the beads have been thrown, the cleanup begins.This year two New Orleans organizations aimed to change that with a pilot recycling project to collect cans, plastic bottles and that Mardi Gras accessory found hanging on fences, trees, and balconies: beads. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) NEW ORLEANS — Mardi Gras produces days of merriment, indulgence, a few hangovers — and a lot of garbage. Once the parades have passed and the beads have been thrown, the cleanup begins.

King Cakes are a vital part of the history of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition . The word "Epiphany” is from the Greek word "to show.” This is the day Mardi Gras season – hence king cake season – begins.

It’s safe to say that masks are one of our favorite Mardi Gras traditions . New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras for hundreds of years, and is the largest masked party in North America.

Other “throws” — such as “doubloons” marked with the names of the krewes that make them — followed after.

Recently, during a clean-up project, New Orleans excavated more than 45 tons of beads from its storm drains.

King Cakes

Likely one of the many Carnival traditions brought over by the French settlers who landed in North America, this cake with a baby Jesus figurine baked inside is a symbol of the Epiphany, the day when the three Kings brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

The round cake, which nowadays comes decked out in green, gold and purple icing, dates back to the Middle Ages when European Christians feasted before the Lenten fast. Like many Christian folk traditions, it may originally have had pagan origins. During Saturnalia, the ancient Roman winter solstice celebration of the deity Saturn, the person who found a special item hidden in a cake would be “king of the day,” according to the Larousse Gastronomique culinary encyclopedia.

But, as NPR has reported, the precise reason behind the tiny baby figure in the cake may be a little bit more down-to-earth: it was a surplus supply of French porcelain dollhouse figures, chanced upon by a New Orleans baker in the 1940s, that first gave the cake that local spin.


SEE IT: Elton John hit in the mouth by flying Mardi Gras beads .
Wednesday night was almost alright for fighting for Elton John. The singer was performing his hit song “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas when a Mardi Gras beads necklace came flying at his mouth, causing him to stop singing and playing piano, video shows. © Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS Recording artist Sir Elton John performs onstage during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City.

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