Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday is celebrated this year on Tuesday February 12, 2013. You don’t have to live in New Orleans to really get into the whole eating, drinking and being merry thing that has become a huge part of the Mardi Gras fun. Don’t know much about Mardi Gras? Here is our list of quick facts about the ultimate party known officially as Mardi Gras!
- Celebrating Mardi Gras is not a modern day invention. The tradition of Mardi Gras (also called Fat Tuesday) actually began long ago; it stems from a medieval practice including some pretty heavy chowing down prior to the advent of lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, Mardi Gras is considered to be the last day for Catholics to really get into some heavy feasting before the fasting and giving up of certain foods during lent.
- Although a lot of the big hoopla occurs on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras celebrating often goes on for weeks prior to the actual event, in many cases the parades and parties begin in early January around the time of Epiphany. Now that’s a party!
- Mardi Gras is most infamously associated with New Orleans, but the holiday is actually celebrated throughout the world.
- Mardi Gras is known as Pancake Day in England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand…and yes, they do eat pancakes as part of their celebrating!
- Where’s the baby? The traditional wreath-shaped King’s Cake has a plastic baby baked right into it. It is said that whoever gets the slice of cake holding the plastic baby will have good luck and fortune for the entire year!
- Parades! A huge part of Mardi Gras traditional celebrating revolves around numerous parades. Elaborate floats are part of these parades and those that ride on the floats will traditionally throw out beaded necklaces as well as various trinkets to parade onlookers.
- The Mardi Gras official colors are known to be purple, gold and green. Green is said to symbolize faith, gold symbolizes power, and purple represents justice. Although many different colors of beads are tossed out during Mardi Gras celebrating, obtaining the ones that represent the official colors of Mardi Gras is considered good luck–except the beads that have already fallen to the ground, which are considered to be bad luck.
- The tradition of throwing beads to parade onlookers actually began back in the 1900’s when a dressed up Santa Claus riding on a float began tossing out beaded necklaces to parade watchers. (And no, the spectators were not flashing Santa!) The tossing of beaded necklaces is one of the most popular of all Mardi Gras traditions to this day.
- Mardi Gras draws fun-seekers everywhere, particularly in New Orleans where Mardi Gras celebrating is done on a very grand scale. During Mardi Gras, masked balls, parties, parades and lots of general partying are commonplace.
- The tradition of masked balls during Mardi Gras began in the 1700’s. People were so raucous, rowdy and debaucherous during the extreme revelry of Mardi Gras that they took to wearing masks in order to conceal their real identities to avoid any future ramifications from their night of utter craziness. At one point in the 19th century there was so much drunk and disorderly conduct occurring during the time of Mardi Gras that authorities made the wearing of masks illegal, hoping to curtail some of the shenanigans. People were not at all deterred by the new mask-less regulations and the extreme behavior continued anyway.
Mardi Gras celebrations are a long time tradition that is enjoyed to this day by the masses. Whether you are heading to New Orleans to get your own piece of the Mardi Gras action or are simply hosting a Mardi Gras celebration of your own close to home, you will not want to miss out on what appears to be the perfect excuse to have a really good time. Don’t forget to check out our complete selection of Mardi Gras supplies, costumes and accessories to make your Mardi Gras inspired event nothing short of spectacular!