By Victoria Lopez Mozota
Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday in French. Even though this name is a bit strange, it makes perfect sense because of the practices that take place during the celebration. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday and is meant to be a day of preparation for Lent. Originally, it revolved around the concept of feasting before fasting. Although many people don’t practice fasting anymore, Mardi Gras is still widely celebrated. It’s so celebrated, that Mardi Gras is now considered a carnival of festivities that goes on until midnight.
The name Mardi Gras is French because it was introduced to North America by a French-Canadian explorer named Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. After being commissioned to secure the claim on Louisiana in 1699 and having traveled for miles, he settled down in present day New Orleans. Knowing that it was Fat Tuesday back in France, he decided to throw a small gala which eventually became the magnificent parade that is Mardi Gras. Although he didn’t invent it, he’s the reason that Mardi Gras is celebrated annually in North America.
Photo Credits: Dan Anderson (The New York Times)
Mardi Gras is meant for feasting before fasting, and no other city can throw a feast quite like New Orleans. The celebration takes place on Bourbon Street and attracts about 1.4 million tourists. The celebration consists of music, dancing, floats, parades, food, costumes and loads of excitement. Along with all of the commotion and activities that make up Mardi Gras, it would fall short without its traditions.
One of the most notorious traditions that takes place on Mardi Gras is the throwing of beads to the audience from the performers on floats during the parades. Another widely recognized tradition is the wearing of masks. During the first Mardi Gras, masks were worn so that everyone could socialize regardless of their social class. King Cake is also an infamous part of the carnival that stretches all the way back to biblical times. It’s a reference to Jesus’ birth and the gifts brought by the three kings. Inside of the cake is a little plastic baby, and whoever finds it has to either throw a party or bring the cake the next time.
Photo credits: NODAR CHERNISHEV GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO
The vibrant and joyous festival that is Mardi Gras is loved by many. It is an event that brings people together and helps them make new experiences while having fun. Mardi Gras is coming up soon and people can’t wait to partake in the green, purple, and gold carnival!