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Mardi Gras Madness

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

 

Mardi Gras

Gold chargers set off Mardi Gras decorations!

Balloons! Streamers! Masks! Action! It’s Mardi Gras time!

Surely no other celebration explodes with more bold zest, not only in New Orleans, but across the Gulf Coast region and even in Rio de Janeiro. For America it started in 1699, when French explorer Iberville camped 60 miles south of the present-day Crescent City. It was March 3, a day he knew was a big holiday back home – a holiday that dated right back to tribal rituals of the Middle Ages celebrating fertility and spring, subdued into a pre-Lenten time of merriment by the Early Church. He named their camp on the west bank of the Mississippi River “Point du Mardi Gras.”

By the late 1700s, masked balls were in vogue during Mardi Gras. The first parade took place in 1837. But the holiday had a rough track record, with its violent tendencies causing the press to call for its curtailment in the mid-1800s. The end-of-winter revelry was saved by the Comus organization in 1857, when a secret carnival society was formed to officiate a safe parade with floats, costumes and a tableau ball. The official colors of the holiday – purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power) – were selected in 1872 by the visiting Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff of Russia. (more…)