What comes to your mind when you hear “Mardi Gras”? Crazy parties? New Orleans, for sure! Beads? Another word starting with B? Well, of course my curiosity peaked and I wanted to know, “Where did Mardi Gras come from?” You were wondering as well?
In honor of tomorrow being Fat Tuesday, here’s how Mardi Gras came to be and some fun facts to share while celebrating!
MARDIS GRAS TIMELINE
I was surprised to learn that Mardi Gras goes back to medieval Europe!
- March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans, naming it “Pointe du Mardi Gras” when his men realized it was the eve of that festive holiday.
- 1702 – Bienville also established “Fort Louis de la Louisiane”, which is now known as Mobile.
- 1703 – Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America’s very first Mardi Gras.
- 1718 – New Orleans was established.
- 1730’s – Mardi Gras was celebrated in New Orleans, but with elegant balls for the select few that were part of the “society scene”.
- 1781 – The parades and other festivities started.
- 1830’s – New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate. Marketing began with newspaper ads showcasing the events in advance, showing lithographs of parades’ fantastic float designs.
- 1873 – Floats began to be constructed in New Orleans instead of France.
- 1875 – Governor Warmoth signed the “Mardi Gras Act,” making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is.
INTERESTING MARDI GRAS FACTS
“Mardi Gras” in French means Fat Tuesday, which always falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras is also known as Pancake Day.
It is illegal to ride on a Mardi Gras float without a mask!
It is an official state holiday in Florida, Alabama and as mentioned above, Louisiana.
The official Mardi Gras color have specific meaning to them. The first daytime carnival King chose purple (justice), gold (power), and green (faith). He would throw the specific colored beads to the people he felt best represented the particular color.
Have you ever been to Mardi Gras? Share some of your G-rated (lol…or other) memories below!