The History Behind Mardi Gras

What happens in New Orleans stays in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is a widely celebrated occasion that you have to attend to appreciate. Knowing the origins of the celebration just makes it all the better. Mardi Gras struggles through some tough times. It was even stopped on occasion. Like the city it thrives in Mardi Gras is resilient. It seemingly keeps coming back stronger that it was before.

Mardi Gras is a highly anticipated event. It is an amazing party that is very rich in history and culture. As generations pass it becomes viewed as a great event to attend with little to no knowledge of the history behind the celebration. With a story like the one behind Mardi Gras it is important to put the culture and knowledge back in to the celebrations that are taking place today.

Mardi Gras actually originated long before any European settlers ever laid eyes on the New Word. A celebration called Lupercaliawas recognized by Romans before they embraced Christianity. After the embracement of the religion changes were implemented to their carnival like celebration to allow Christians their own interpretation of the events. This birthed Mardi Gras which was introduced into American culture in 1699. It was not always the Mardi Gras we all know and love or long to attend.

Point du Mardi Gras was not located where the celebrations are today in New Orleans. It was very close though. Mardi Gras made its way first to Iberville on the rivers west bank. There is about a 60 mile difference from the location of today’s parades hosted in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras went through quite a few changes in the eighteenth century when the French rule turned to the Spanish. It was even outlawed! The masked balls and elaborate festivals were banned all together until the United States became the rulers of New Orleans in 1827. The creole people partitioned the governor to legalize their beloved events. He was moved by their pleas to make street masking legal again. Despite the issues that restricted the masking in the first place the governor allowed the events to resume legally.

The first parade held in the city streets took place in 1837. People were asking to have the celebrations ended due to violence and mayhem caused by some masked criminals. New Orleans citizens stepped up and saved the celebrations.

Six citizens who were experienced in overseeing large parades and events organized a safer event. It also turned out to be a more festive celebration. This is how the Mardi Gras as we now know it began.

The first queen of the Mardi Gras was recorded in 1871. This was also the introduction of the cake tradition.  She was paraded in the celebration with a cake that hid a treasured golden bean somewhere inside.

The first king of Mardi Gras came later with a visit from Russia’s Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff in 1872. With his introduction to the events the traditional gold, purple and green colors themed the event for the first time. Another tradition was born.

Mardi Gras may have seen its ups and downs through the dark years that consumed its existence and hurricane Katrina still it has always bounced back. It returned in 1919 only to struggle all the way through the 1930’s. It took off in the 40’s, and it had another setback with the hurricane. Its resilience prevailed making Mardi Gras one of the most loved and anticipated celebrations in the United States.

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