Mardi Gras: The festival called Fat Tuesday

North America | | March 9, 2011 at 3:50 am




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Mardi Gras in French and Fat Tuesday in English refers to the exciting carnival event that is celebrated not only in US, but also in the different parts of the world. Falling before the period of Lent, this festival starts before the 46 days of Easter and that when you speak about its joy in Louisiana’s New Orleans, it is simply overwhelming! Fat Tuesday in New Orleans is a season for profusion as well as a period for bliss and the term itself belongs to the French-catholic heritage that indicates ‘mardis’ as Tuesday and ‘gras’ as fat. Historically as well as significantly, the festival is linked to the day when three magi saw the infant Jesus for offering their treasures to this world redeemer.

Mardi Gras celebration mostly includes the big hits of a carnival – parades, masquerade balls, and the king cake parties; which carry on for some two weeks before the Fat Tuesday after which comes the Ash Wednesday. The latter signifies the amounts of waste spread on the streets, obviously because of the celebrations. Apart from the lively parades, the New Orleans Mardi Gras event also call for the ceremonial balls, picnics, new gourmet dishes, and new dresses.

Symbolism

During the festival, the New Orleanians are stirred up to swathe in the symbolic colors of Mardi Gras – gold for power, purple for justice, and green for faith.

Parades

These are carried out in the honor of the spirit of city partying that has almost overcome the not yet forgettable results of the Hurricane Katrina. Both the locals as well as the tourists enjoy more than 40 parades that feature music, marching, big floats, and dancing on several routes. However, the main pull is the major parade being performed every day provided the weather is conducive and despite the fact that several big parades run throughout the city up to several days of which the largest are seen on the last five days. So, to sum up, the final week of Fat Tuesday is full of big and small programs that adorn the city streets and venues including those of the neighborhoods.

Throws

During the parades organized by the Carnival krewes, the riders of the float traditionally throw many things that the crowd is always excited to grasp as mementos. The throws include small toys, Zulu Coconut, doubloons as aluminum or wooden coins that hold the krewe logo, colorful plastic beads, and the decorated plastic cups. Sometimes, even jewelry or medals are thrown, which is often taken away by the local kids. The most famous throws are made by the Bacchus Parade wherein you can grasp the valuable doubloons tossed by the Mardi Gras king. Well, it is also understood that all this is very violent!

King cake season

Starting in the first week of January, this season features the traditional King cake as an oblong coffee cake iced and covered in the symbolic tricolor sugar. Its each piece holds a hidden bean that is to be sought. The one who finds it must sponsor the next king cake party or buy the King cake. The tradition is also used to choose the queen of the ball. So, do eat this cake once!

Famous streets of celebrations

The French Quarter as well as the Bourbon Street are most famous during the season. But, there is a twist now a days in the sense that no major parades take place on the Quarter as the route is very thin and has barriers. Therefore, the major parades are now held in the mid-city and uptown districts. And yes, also follow the trail along Canal Street as well as St. Charles Avenue in the upriver zone of the Quarter.

Celebrations

One of the oldest Krewes called as The Twelfth Night Revelers start the festival via a masked ball after which the parades begin prior to three weekends of the Mardi Gras event. The first parade that takes place is called Krewe du Vieux.

The Thursday night witnesses a women’s parade that feature themes and throws associated with the personalities. The next day night features the Krewe of Hermes and incongruous Krewe D’État parades – one of largest! The other highlights are the neighborhood parades, Lundi Gras meaning Fat Monday at the end of the Canal Street, party on the Canal Street, uptown parades starting with Krewe of Proteus, and the court meeting ceremony that marks the end of the festival wherein Rex and His consort (King and Queen) meet each other in Krewe of Comus at the Municipal Auditorium.

2011 Mardi Grass in New Orleans

It was 8th March when the weather was a bit rainy, but nothing could shake the strident spirits of celebrations here accompanied by the spring breaks as well as anniversary of the BP oil spill – masker’s humorous object. Women in hats and grass skirts were adorned with the BP logo and slogans, Bloody Pathetic voodoo dolls, and broken promises on their backs. In Grand Isle of Louisiana, the downriver area on Sunday enjoyed a majestic parade that featured the symbolically colored necklaces of beads.

2012 date

21st February.

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