New Orleans Celebrates Mardi Gras February 13
New Orleans, home to the SubOptic 2019 event, is known for its French and Spanish Creole architecture and jazz music – but it’s probably most famous for its parades and celebrations around Mardi Gras. In fact, New Orleans is the only state in the U.S. that recognizes Mardi Gras as a legal holiday.
Mardi Gras is translated from French as “Fat Tuesday” – “Mardi” meaning Tuesday and “Gras” meaning “Fat”. Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday, signifying the start of Lent. Traditionally, this is the day when people would binge in fatty foods – meat, milk, lard – in anticipation of the fasting leading up to Easter.
Mardi Gras is actually a pagan tradition that dates back thousands of years to the celebrations of spring and fertility, including the Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Roman leaders incorporated the local traditions and with the spread of Christianity, Mardi Gras was adopted and celebrated in European countries.
New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebrations began in the 1730’s with society balls. Today, New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras with a Carnival that stretches nearly two weeks and includes parades, balls, festivals and parties. The official schedule for “Fat Tuesday” includes a day of parades from “Krewes” like Endymion, Bacchus, Zulu, and Rex. A krewe is an organization or association that organizes or stages a parade or event during Mardi Gras.
Parades and events are exciting and entertaining for visitors, locals and families alike. Floats are incredibly elaborate and notorious for their vibrant use of color especially purple, green and gold, which symbolize – justice, faith and power – assigned to the celebration by Rex, the Carnival King in 1892. Float riders are commonly masked and clothed in costumes made of shimmering fabrics and ornamented with beads, sequins, feathers and gems.
To learn more about the other traditions of Carnival and Mardi Gras in New Orleans visit http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/mardi-gras-traditions.html
Watch one of the 2018 parades below: