Mardi Gras is coming and it’s time to party hearty, let your hair down and have some fun. You can find a mask or create a costume and head to New Orleans on March 8th, or you can look for splashes of the holiday to show up in towns like yours. It’s a big celebration and it’s been going on for over 150 years, but what is it exactly and how did the whole thing get started?
The surprising thing about the “Fat Tuesday” gala is that it started a long time ago, actually way back in 1857. Mardi Gras marks the last day of the Carnival season, a period of rich feasting and frivolity which follows Epiphany and is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. It’s a floating holiday and the date of Mardi Gras varies slightly because it must fall 47 days before Easter Sunday.
The traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green have their roots in political and religious arenas. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. In 1872 some businessmen invented a King of the Carnival festivities named Rex and the first Rex selected the colors and the significance they hold today. A new Rex is chosen each year by the School of Design in New Orleans, the sponsors of the Rex parade. In the “city that care forgot”, the parade champions make sure that visitors and natives alike follow Rex who will always set their hearts to music with “If ever I cease to love.”
If you’re celebrating Mardi Gras in the grand tradition, you may want to offer your fellow revelers some King Cake. The King Cake honors the Feast of Epiphany when the three wise men took their gifts to the baby Jesus. Today, inside every King Cake, is a tiny plastic baby representing that sacred event. The person who receives the slice of cake with the baby in it is asked to carry on the tradition by hosting the next King Cake party.
Over the years, specialty groups known as Krewes developed. The first one was the Krewe of Comus and it sponsored floats and balls and parades. Today there are nearly a hundred Krewes and most elect their own Queens and royalty, and all represent some aspect of life and spirit worthy of celebration. So, it’s a great time of year to get out your beads and throw your hat in the ring for abundance and the gifts of blessing that surround you. In New Orleans, even after Katrina, the parades go on because people choose to celebrate all that is good. This year leave your cares behind and create a little Mardi Gras of your own to celebrate life!
Remind your friends and family to let their hair down by sending free Mardi Gras eCards!