Popular Mardi Gras Traditions
January 20, 2012
Mardi Gras Traditions are one of the most fun parts of the holiday.
There are a lot of Mardi Gras Traditions which can be found both in New Orleans and at celebrations around the globe.
To help keep you in the party loop, here are some Popular Mardi Gras Traditions and the stories behind them.
The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. These colors are said to have been chosen by Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia during a visit to New Orleans in 1872.
This doctrine was reaffirmed in 1892, when the Rex Parade theme "Symbolism of Colors" gave the colors their meanings.
In his book "Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival: Comus to Zulu," Errol Laborde shows the above mentioned meanings of the Mardi Gras colors to be false. He gives a much simpler origin, having to do primarily with looking good.
Purple stands for Justice. Gold stands for Power. And Green stands for Faith.
Inexpensive strings of beads and toys have been thrown from floats to parade-goers since at least the late 19th century. Until the 1960s, the most common form was multi-colored strings of glass beads made in Czechoslovakia. These were supplanted by less expensive and more durable plastic beads, first from Hong Kong, then from Taiwan, and more recently from China. Lower-cost beads and toys allow riders to purchase greater quantities and throws have become more numerous and common.
In the 1990s, many people lost interest in small, cheap beads, often leaving them where they landed on the ground. Larger, more elaborate metallic beads and strands with figures of animals, people, or other objects have become the sought-after throws. David Redmon's 2005 film of cultural and economic globalization, Mardi Gras: Made in China
, follows the production and distribution of beads from a small factory in Fuzhou, China to the streets of New Orleans during Carnival.
With the advent of the 21st century, more sophisticated throws began to replace simple metallic beads. Krewes started to produce limited edition beads and plush toys that are unique to the krewe. Fiber optic beads and LED-powered prizes are now among the most sought-after items
. In a retro-inspired twist, glass beads have returned to parades. Now made in India, glass beads are one of the most valuable throws.
One of the many Mardi Gras throws which krewes fling into the crowds, doubloons are large coins, either wood or metal, made in Mardi Gras colors. Artist H. Alvin Sharpe created the modern doubloon for The School of Design (the actual name of the Rex organization). According to the krewe history, in January 1959 Sharpe arrived at the offices of the captain of the krewe with a handful of aluminum discs. Upon entering the office, he threw the doubloons into the captain's face to prove that they would be safe to throw from the floats. Standard krewe doubloons usually portray the Krewe's emblem, name, and founding date on one side, and the theme and year of the parade and ball on the other side
. Royalty and members of the court may throw specialty doubloons, such as the special Riding Lieutenant doubloons given out by men on horseback in the Rex parade. In the last decade, krewes have minted doubloons specific to each float. Krewes also mint special doubloons of cloisonné or pure silver for its members. They never throw these from the floats. Original Rex doubloons are valuable, but it is nearly impossible for aficionados to find a certified original doubloon. The School of Design did not begin dating their doubloons until a few years after their introduction.
The first week of January in New Orleans starts the King cake season. King cakes first appeared after 1872, when the Rex Krewe selected the Mardi Gras colors (purple, green and gold). The traditional King cake is a coffee cake, and is oblong and braided. It is iced with a simple icing and covered with purple, green and gold sugar.
Each cake contains a hidden bean or small plastic baby, and custom tells that whoever finds it must either buy the next King cake or throw the next King cake party. One Mardi Gras organization uses the King cake tradition to choose the queen of its annual ball. Hundreds of King cake parties are thrown every year and hundreds of thousands of cakes are made, bought and eaten every year.
What's Your Favorite Mardi Gras Tradition?
Credit all information to Wikipedia