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Mardi Gras 

 

 Mardi Gras Parade Float

Mardi Gras is a festive holiday held annually on a Tuesday between February 3rd and March 9th. The date changes because it is always held 47 days before Easter. Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday in French, is held on the day before Lent, which is a 40 day period in which Christians give up meat and other rich foods. The holiday started as a way to indulge in the foods that would be given up for Lent. 

Mardi Gras originated in pagan traditions of Medieval Europe. It precedes Lent because when Christianity spread to Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate the traditions into the new faith instead of abolishing them. Mardi Gras was brought to the new world by French explorers who founded settlements near present day Mobile Alabama and Louisiana in the 17th century. 

Today,  Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans includes parties, elaborate floats, masked balls and colorful parades which are put on by organizations called Krewes. During parades, people riding on floats toss beads or other souvenirs known as “throws”, to the crowd.  “King Cakes”, a cinnamon filled dough in a hollow circle, are a popular Mardi Gras treat. They are named for the three kings who visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem. A tiny plastic doll or golden bean that represents baby Jesus is hidden in the cake. The person that gets the piece of cake with the doll or bean is said to have good luck and must buy the next king cake or throw the next party. “Let the good times roll”!

Did You Know?

  •  It is illegal to ride on a Mardi Gras parade float without a mask.
  •  America’s first Mardi Gras celebration was held in Mobile, Alabama in 1703.
  •  An estimated 25 million pounds of Mardi Gras items are tossed from floats.
  • Mardi Gras is a legal holiday in Louisiana.
  • Mardi Gras generates an average of $840 million dollars for the city of New Orleans.
  • Approximately 500,000 king cakes are sold in New Orleans between January 6 and Fat Tuesday.

Mardi Gras Mask
Mardi Gras King Cake


Check These Out!

Mardi Gras
Foran, Jill
Provides information on the pre-Lenten festival of Mardi Gras, focusing on how it is celebrated in New Orleans.
Mardi Gras and Carnival
Aloian, Molly
Put on a mask and join the street party for Mardi Gras. Learn all about this colorful New Orleans' holiday, where people enjoy food and fun before the beginning of Lent, a period of reflection and giving up things we enjoy. Explore the history of Mardi Gras, and Carnival, and all its different customs taken from around the world!
Mimi's First Mardi Gras
Couvillon, Alice
Mimi and her parents enjoy the color and excitement of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and observe many traditional aspects of the celebration.
Mardi Gras
Landau, Elaine

Websites

To learn more, check this website: 

 National Geographic: Mardi Gras

 

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