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What Is Mardi Gras, Exactly? Part 2

Last time around, we learned a little about Mardi Gras history as it has come to be celebrated here in New Orleans. This time, we’ll take a closer look at some of the details that go into the annual celebration.

Mardi Gras History - KrewesKrewes
A “krewe” is a group that organizes a parade and or a ball for the Mardi Gras celebration. Each krewe has a unique theme and history that sets them apart from the others. Super Krewes have devloped over the decades and put on the largest of the parades.
Krewes have been around since the 1800’s and the oldest, still active krewe in New Orleans is the Krewe of Rex, which was established in 1872 and is considered the King of Carnival!
Click here a full list of active krewes.

Mardi Gras Balls
Outside of the parades held by the krewes, there are the grand balls, which mark the historic and traditional social season in New Orleans.
Most of the balls are formal and private, held by and for a particular krewe or are invite only. The tradition of debutante introduction to formal society – the rite of passage for a young lady into society – continues to be practiced here.
The identity of the Mardi Gras King and Queen is closely guarded until the night of the big ball.

Mardi Gras History - ThrowsThrowing trinkets, such as doubloons or strings of beads, to the parade crowd started in the early 1870s by the Twelfth Night Revelers before blossoming into a now expected tradition.
Doubloons are made of aluminum and are often anodized with different colors and stamped with a design or the visage of Mardi Gras royalty. The practice was started in 1884 by Krewe of Rex.

Mardi Gras History - King CakesKing Cakes
We’ve talked about King Cakes here before – check it out!

Purple, Green, and Gold
The Krewe of Rex chose the official Mardi Gras colors in 1872 to honor a visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexie Alexandrovich Romanoff, who suggested the theme. Thereafter, it was decided that each color represented something: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. You’ll see the colors everywhere during Mardi Gras – if you’re not in them, you’re not celebrating!

And that’s a New Orleans Mardi Gras in a very, very small nutshell. The actual details of Mardi Gras history could fill numerous books – or your ears as you chat with your New Orleans Bed and Breakfast innkeeper. Just ask! They can fill you in on all the details, offer tips, directions, advice, and, of course, the best place to stay while visiting the Big Easy.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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