2017-02-01 / Features

Did You Know?

A Historical Version of "Mardi Gras"

1. The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back to medieval Europe. Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years ago to pagan spring and fertility rites.

2. Brazil, Venice and New Orleans celebrate it the best, hosting some of the most famous holiday festivities and drawing in thousands of tourists each year.

3. Rex, one of the oldest established krewes by a group of businessman, participating in parades since 1872, gave us the purple, green and gold coloring synonymous with Mardi Gras today in honor of Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, who was also the first crowned “King of the Carnival.”

4. The colors each have a meaning. Purple stands for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.

5. “Fat Tuesday” comes from France, and is significant as the day before Ash Wednesday.

6. Governor Henry Warmoth signed the “Mardi Gras Act” in 1875, solidifying Fat Tuesday as a legal holiday in Louisiana, making it the only state given bragging rights to tout Mardi Gras as an official holiday.

7. The plastic beads we so love to catch were originally made of glass, and the year 1870 brought us the first recorded account of Mardi Gras “throws” with the introduction of the second established krewe, the Twelfth Night Revelers.

8. The earliest reference to Mardi Gras as “Carnival” appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body.

9. Many historians believe that the first US Mardi Gras took place on March 2 or 3, 1699, when French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a location 60 miles directly south of modern-day New Orleans, naming it “Pointe du Mardi Gras” and being reminded by his men that it was the eve of the festive holiday.

10. Other accounts exist that America’s first Mardi Gras was celebrated in 1703 at Fort Louis de la Mobile, also established by Bienville in 1702. Hence the rivalry between Louisiana and Alabama for first rights to the raucous holiday.

11. Mardi Gras celebrations were abolished for a time when the Spanish took control of New Orleans, and the bans remained in effect until Louisiana became a state in 1812.

Return to top