The History of Mardi Gras
January 19, 2010
When most people think of Mardi Gras, which literally translates as Fat
Tuesday, they often have visions of masked revelers abandoning their sense of decorum and indulging all of their vices as they toss Mardi Gras beads, imbibe drinks and dance in the streets of New Orleans.
Though the Franco-American culture of New Orleans has shaped much of our modern Mardi Gras activities, the traditional spring celebration is likely to have originated in ancient cultures, according to History.com.
The website reports that the Lupercalia was a Roman festival typically celebrated on February 15 that honored the Roman god Lupercus. Later in the spring, Equiria would be celebrated.
The ancient Greeks and Romans also worshiped Bacchus, sometimes known as Dionysus, the god of wine who is typically associated with debaucherous behavior. During festivals, citizens would frequently feast and drink in his honor.
It seems possible that the merrymaking and uninhibited celebrations were later incorporated into the Christian tradition of indulging in food and wine before the Lenten fast.
In the U.S., New Orleans has traditionally been the epicenter of Fat Tuesday (though Mobile, Alabama, is also well known for its riotous revelries, which typically start in November), but the festival is celebrated all around the globe. The Carnival of Brazil takes place 40 days before Easter and is thought to stem from the pagan festival of Saturnalia.
The event is one of the largest annual celebrations in Brazil, and citizens typically receive a week off from work to rest, spend time with family and enjoy the fetes.
Mardi Gras BeadsMardi Gras beads are one of the most recognizable hallmarks of the holiday. Typically, those who are on floats or walking in the large parades throw out Mardi Gras beads, trinkets and souvenirs to onlookers.
As a holdover from the days of costumes and masks, festival-goers typically wear loud and eccentric outfits, brightly-colored wigs, body paint and outrageous hats. In some areas it's common for men to dress in drag or wear elaborate head pieces.
Participants might also carry noisemakers or drums, and of course they will wear all of their hard-won Mardi Gras beads!
Celebrate Fat Tuesday at your place!
If the short, chilly days of winter have got your down, a Mardi Gras party is the perfect way to add some color and excitement into your life. If you can't make it to an exotic locale, bring the party to you with plenty of Mardi Gras decorations!
Fill up your space with bright party lights and put up a Bourbon street scene setter to lend a sultry southern vibe to your shindig. Hang swirling decorations for a pop of color.
Of course, to complete the festivities, you'll need to provide guests with plenty of Mardi Gras beads.
Play classic jazz music and serve rich southern fare and plenty of indulgently sweet treats. Mix up sweet-tea flavored vodka and lemonade for a refreshing drink or make the celebration feel fancy by offering partygoers flutes of champagne.
Come to Windy City Novelties for all of your Mardi Gras party supplies, Mardi Gras decorations and Mardis Gras beads!