About Me! | Cyberculture | Holistic Healing | Earth's Seasons
Up Cristes maesse Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

Carnival - New Orleans


History of Mardi Gras

"Mardi Gras" literally means "Fat Tuesday" in French. It is the day before "Ash Wednesday" when Lent begins, the season of prayer and fasting observed by the Roman Catholic Church during the forty days before Easter Sunday. Mardi Gras in New Orleans dates back all the way to the late seventeenth century, when the city was founded by by Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville, and Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur de Iberville.

mask12.gif (2987 bytes)Mardi Gras was celebrated throughout the period where New Orleans was under control of the French and Spanish. After the signing of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, when New Orleans became part of America, the Creoles, primarily of French and Spanish descent, who made up the upper-crust of New Orleans society continued the tradition.

joprinc.gif (11950 bytes)The Carnival season in the first half of the nineteenth century was not a calm, quiet celebration. In fact, the citizens of New Orleans got so wrapped up in Mardi Gras that street masking was banned by the authorities by the 1830's.

parademainart2.gif (7898 bytes)Carnival was rescued, however, by six young men from Mobile. They formed the Mystick Krewe of Comus, a social club that staged the first New Orleans Carnival parade on the evening of Mardi Gras in 1857. Naming one of their number the king of the krewe (the word being deliberately spelled that way to show they were an elite society), they paraded through the streets of the French Quarter on two mule-driven floats.

jomardi1.gif (4524 bytes)After the Civil War, several other krewes formed and did parades on the days leading up to Mardi Gras. By 1871, Comus had been joined by the krewes of Proteus and Momus, and a new group formed that year, known as the School of Design. The School of Design decided to stage their parade during the day on Mardi Gras, and they proclaimed that their king was to be Rex, the King of Carnival.

mardibeads.gif (1507 bytes)From the 1870's up to the present, new krewes continue to form, as groups of friends, neighbors, business associates, etc., decide they want to celebrate Carnival by parading through New Orleans.