1. Mardi Gras and Carnival are the same celebration.
Though Mardi Gras technically refers only to Fat Tuesday, the Mardi Gras season actually begins on Epiphany, a Christian holiday celebrated on January 6 that is otherwise known as Three Kings Day or the Twelfth Day of Christmas. In Brazil and many other countries, this period between Epiphany and Fat Tuesday is known as Carnival. Whichever name you prefer to use, the revelries of Mardi Gras last until midnight tonight, when Ash Wednesday ushers in 40 days of Lent.
2. Mardi Gras may or may not have pagan roots.
A popular theory holds that Mardi Gras’ origins lie in ancient pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, such as Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Some experts contend, however, that Mardi Gras-type festivities popped up solely as a result of the Catholic Church’s discouragement of sex and meat during Lent. Church reformers may have helped to propagate the pagan rumors, these experts say, in the hope of dissuading pre-Lenten hedonism.
3. New Orleans did not host the first North American Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is believed to have arrived in North America on March 3, 1699, when the French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville camped about 60 miles downriver from the future site of New Orleans. Knowing it was Fat Tuesday back in France, Iberville named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and held a small gala. A few years later, French soldiers and settlers feasted and wore masks as part of Mardi Gras festivities in the newly founded city of Mobile (present-day Alabama). To this day, Mobile claims to have the oldest annual Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.
4. Mardi Gras in New Orleans survived early efforts at suppression.
Mardi Gras got going in New Orleans soon after the city’s founding in 1718. The Spanish, who ruled the Big Easy from 1762 to 1800, apparently cracked down on certain Mardi Gras rituals (though documentation from that period is scarce). U.S. authorities did much the same after taking control in 1803, banning both masked balls and public disguises. Nonetheless, they eventually accepted the festival’s existence. The first recorded Mardi Gras street parade in New Orleans took place in 1837, by which time the city had transformed from a small backwater into a major metropolis. Twenty years later, six men organized a secret society called the Mistick Krewe of Comus. By holding a parade with the theme of “The Demon Actors in Milton’s Paradise Lost,” along with a lavish grand ball, Comus reversed the declining popularity of Mardi Gras and helped establish New Orleans as its clear epicenter in the United States. This year, more than 1 million visitors are expected to attend.
5. Other secret societies quickly followed Comus’ lead.
In 1872 the Krewe of Rex and the Knights of Momus began paying for parades and balls of their own. They were followed a decade later by the Krewe of Proteus. Since these early societies were exclusively male and white, women and blacks formed their own groups, such as Les Mysterieuses and the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Dozens of krewes of all types have proliferated since then, including the science fiction-themed Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, whose name is a hybrid of the “Star Wars” character and the Roman god of wine. Despite being less than three years old, this krewe convinced Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the movies, to ride in its parade last month atop a Millennium Falcon float and alongside a mascot called Bar2D2.
6. Some krewes refused to racially integrate.
Racial exclusion has not been limited to the distant past. In 1992, after an acrimonious debate, the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that prohibited krewes from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin. Rex pledged to immediately integrate, but Comus, Momus and Proteus chose to stop parading rather than open up their ranks to blacks. Comus has not yet returned to the streets, Momus spun off into the Knights of Chaos and Proteus came back in 2000 after signing the non-discrimination pledge.
7. Mardi Gras occasionally gets cancelled.
Since Comus ushered in the modern era of Mardi Gras in 1857, the New Orleans festivities have been cancelled about a dozen times. Most of those cancellations came during the Civil War, World War I and World War II, though revelers also stayed home during an 1870s yellow fever outbreak. The last time it was called off completely was 1945. A scaled-down version even took place in 2006, just months after Hurricane Katrina flooded the Gulf Coast and killed over 1,800 people.
8. The Super Bowl interrupted the 2013 parade schedule.
New Orleans hosted both the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras in February 2013, a potentially overwhelming combination that some called “Super Gras.” In an effort at crowd control, the city expanded its 12-day parade season so that no one would be marching on February 3, when the San Francisco 49ers battled the Baltimore Ravens. January 28-31 and February 4-5 likewise were kept free of parades. In a similar attempt at preventing mayhem, official parades have been banned from the narrow, tourist-filled streets of the city’s French Quarter since the 1970s.
9. King Cake is only eaten during Mardi Gras.
Available only during the Mardi Gras season, king cake is typically made with brioche dough. Braided and laced with cinnamon, the dough is then glazed with purple, green and gold sugar or covered in icing in those same Mardi Gras colors. What really sets king cake apart from other desserts, however, is the small plastic baby hidden inside. Whoever finds the baby in his or her slice must buy the next cake or perhaps host the next party.
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando
If you’ve ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you know it’s all about beads, parades, food and drinks, and a touch of debauchery and indulgence. (Okay, maybe more than just a touch of debauchery.) But if you’ve never made it to the Big Easy, or if you’d rather combine your Mardi Gras experience with some of the best Orlando theme parks, there’s good news: Somehow, Universal Orlando has found a way to bring all the best parts of Mardi Gras to Florida in a true family-friendly atmosphere.
Universal’s Mardi Gras festival takes place mostly inside the Universal Studios Florida park. There’s lots to see and do (and eat!), but there are also quite a few secrets and surprises you may not know about. Here are 10 little-known facts about Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando that’ll help you “let the good times roll” on your visit.
17 Things You Didn't Know About Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is one of the most well-known celebrations in the U.S., drawing on a history that dates back to medieval Europe and pagan spring festivals and fertility rites. The festival first landed on what are now American shores in 1699, and we've been parading, dancing, and partying in some form or fashion ever since.
Whether you've visited New Orleans, another U.S. city, or even traveled abroad to partake in the festivities in Brazil or Venice, Italy, during carnival season or not, there's a lot to learn about the celebration that leads up to Fat Tuesday. From king cakes to krewes, Mardi Gras traditions are steeped in sentiment for those who celebrate. While those traditions may look different in 2021 in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic (New Orleans, for example, has canceled their famous parades) and the need to help each other and our communities stay healthy, rest assured that the spirit of the holiday will surely live on. (Be sure to check the official website for New Orleans tourism for the most up-to-date information regarding how you can celebrate in a safe way!)
To help get you in the Mardi Gras spirit, read up here on some of the most interesting history, trivia, and fun Mardi Gras facts here before you laissez les bon temps rouler . And don't forget to get some of our most festive Mardi Gras recipes, too!
You'll hear laissez les bon temps rouler (pronounced lay-say le bon tom roo-lay) over and over again at Mardi Gras celebrations. It means "let the good times roll" in Cajun French. We can get behind that idea!
In New Orleans, carnival season begins on Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. Many smaller parades are hosted leading up to the 12-day parading period. But the last five days make up the main weekend (from Thursday night until the morning of Fat Tuesday), when the largest parades run back-to-back.
While some krewes have been hosting Mardi Gras parades for years, others have formed more recently. Most are named after Roman or Greek mythology.
Some are easy to join via an application, while others have long wait lists to get in. You will likely have to spend a little change, regardless, as these private organizations charge yearly memberships.
It&rsquos not just a tradition&mdashit&rsquos the law! Everyone on the float must wear a mask or paint their face. The practice was originally started to encourage people to mingle and talk to those outside of your social circle.
Each float in a Mardi Gras parade is decorated differently to fit into a central theme, which can be anything from literature to humor. And they don't waste any time getting to work: Most start on the following year's floats as soon as Fat Tuesday is over.
Historians believe Mardi Gras arrived in North America in 1699 and then spread to New Orleans in 1718. The Mistick Krewe of Comus was the first to roll floats about 60 miles from New Orleans in 1856. Krewe of Rex was the first of the type of parade krewes we see today.
According to How Stuff Works, each parade kicks off with the krewe leader. Next comes the king or queen, followed by the maids and dukes, before the rest of the members.
You may assume that Mardi Gras is one wild party, but there are some spots you can go that are family friendly, too. Try finding an area along the parade route uptown if you're looking for a more PG experience.
Just use the magic words: "Throw me something, mister!" as floats pass by, and watch as krewe members happily toss you beads and toys.
In addition to paying a membership fee, krewe members dish out major cash for beads, costumes, security, clean-up crews, and Mardi Gras balls year after year. Luckily, many krewes allow members to take a break for a year, as long as they send a friend to ride (and pay) in their place.
While rain delays are common, the event has only been canceled a handful of times, such as during the two World Wars and an outbreak of Yellow Fever in the 1870s, according to Double-Barrelled Travel. In the greater New Orleans area in 2021, parades have been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic (but the heart of the holiday, king cakes, and music, will still go on). To find out what activities are being practiced safely in 2021, click here.
Yes, your neck will inevitably hurt from the dozens of strands of beads you score at your first Mardi Gras parade. But seasoned pros know that there's more to covet than these necklaces. At Krewe of Muses, the first all-girl krewe, spectators look for rare bedazzled shoes, while painted coconuts are the big prize at Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. If you're after one of these throws, stand as close to the float as possible&mdashkrewe members won't throw anything too heavy to avoid hurting spectators.
During Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, king cakes are ubiquitous. Each pastry is hiding a tiny plastic baby inside. Tradition holds that if you find the baby inside your slice of cake, you'll be bringing king cake to the next gathering.
The Big Easy may be home to one of the most well-known celebrations, but plenty of other places have their own takes on this festival. The first Carnival celebration originated in Nice, France, while Rio de Janeiro, Quebec City, and Trinidad and Tobago all have their own celebrations as well. Looking for a more local way to celebrate Mardi Gras? Head to Mobile, Alabama, or St. Louis, Missouri.
Sure, anyone can attend a parade, but scoring an invite to an elaborate Mardi Gras ball is more exclusive.
Green represents faith, gold symbolizes power, and purple is justice.
When New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl in 2013, some called the celebration "Super Gras." The 12-day parade season was extended so that no parades would run on the day of the Big Game.
10 Things to Know About Mardi Gras
1. Carnival is a Season Mardi Gras is a day.
Sure, we all do it. “Yea, I’m going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras!” we say, when we’re actually going to see parades the weekend before Mardi Gras, or the weekend before that. Technically, “Mardi Gras” is the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and ushers in 40 days of best behavior during Lent, and “Carnival” is the season that begins on the Feast of Epiphany. A krewe (pronounced the same way as "crew") is an organization that puts on a parade and/or a ball for the Carnival season.
2. Your Dog Will Love Mardi Gras.
Dogs just want to have fun! And that’s what they get at their very own parades in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Northshore and more locations! These animal-dedicated parades show off the fun and revelry from our furriest of friends, and man, do they look cute (check out images from past parades)! Though the parades are mostly not rolling this year, start planning your dog's costume for the next celebration.
3. Mardi Gras is for Families.
There are many activities and Mardi Gras parades that are family-friendly. Though the parades are not rolling this year, in New Orleans’ there are a few favorite family parade-watching spots, which include St. Charles and Napoleon Streets.
4. The Best Ways to Get Parade Goods Aren’t Always Obvious.
Sure, you could say, “Throw me something, mister!” or you could stick your cute kid on your shoulders, but if you really want to test your suitcases’ weight limit, head to the end of the parade. You’ll be showered by effervescent float-riders with a single goal: chuck all bags of beads off before they get off the float themselves.
Everything You Need to Know About Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras brings its flair for fun to a number of destinations, in the Caribbean. Carnival has three brand new and distinctive concepts on Mardi Gras that are making big waves in the cruise world:
Carnival’s Excel Suites: The ultimate, luxury category of Carnival’s suites is debuting on Mardi Gras: the Excel Suites. These suites have exclusive, suite-level amenities, unlimited access to a new resort-style, and an open-air enclave called Loft 19™. Within Loft 19 guests will enjoy dedicated, concierge phone line, priority Main Dining Room time assignments, upgraded bathroom amenities and more.
Loft 19: Book an Excel Suite and enjoy access to one of Carnival’s new concepts, Loft 19. Located on the ship’s highest deck, Loft 19 is a secluded retreat designed like those of the world’s finest resorts. It has a full bar and private pool. Spacious cabanas have extras like fresh fruit, chilled towels, lunch delivery and concierge service. Carnival’s Excel Suite guests receive priority status when reserving a Loft 19 cabana.
Fun Zones: In addition to fan-favorite Carnival features, there’s even more to love that’s new on Mardi Gras. This ship is our first with distinctive zones that offer mini-onboard excursions to different “worlds” and experiences. How’s that for a ship we’re filling with the thrilling?
Here’s a quick preview of some fun highlights you’ll find across Mardi Gras’ zones:
- The French Quarter zone is our nod to New Orleans, and it features Emeril’s Bistro 1396™, the first restaurant at sea from renown chef Emeril Lagasse (BAM!).
- The Ultimate Playground zone features BOLT™: Ultimate Sea Coaster, the first roller ever on a cruise ship.
- Summer Landing delivers casual summer classics any time of year, with BBQ from Guy Fieri at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse|Brewhouse, poolside bar The Watering Hole… plus Swirls soft serve (one of two on the ship!).
- Lido is as delicious as fans are hoping, not only debuting the RedFrog Tiki Bar ™ , but the first-time-fresh Street Eats, which serves up fast-good bites like empanadas, falafel and bao buns. Did we mention Big Chicken? (That’s Shaq’s place, and it’s amazing.)
New Stateroom Features on Mardi Gras
The new features aboard Mardi Gras’ staterooms will surpass expectations, providing comfortable and stylish spaces regardless of which category guests choose.
- Pull-out storage bins and baskets
- Storage ottoman with a top that transforms into a tray or table
- Large lighted mirror for multiple people to use at once
- Multiple USB ports and plugs to accommodate all devices
- Flexible recessed bedside reading lights that won’t disturb others sleeping in the stateroom
- New bath design details including a shaving bar in the shower
- The sofa transforms into a comfortable bed with the quick flip of your wrist
In addition to the newest Excel Suite concept, our Mardi Gras has all the other exceptionally comfortable stateroom categories you’ve come to expect on our other ships: from interior, ocean view and balcony staterooms, as well as traditional suites. Staterooms feature settings that cater to everyone, whether it’s a family, a couple, yourself or a group.
Mardi Gras Stateroom Designs
Mardi Gras stateroom designs come in all styles in all locations, from interior spaces to suites. The stateroom designs include:
Havana staterooms: Havana stateroom guests have exclusive access to the Havana Bar & Pool. This stateroom features classic, Old Havana decor and is perfect for cruisers who may want to take advantage of the social aspect of the pool area. All Havana stateroom guests must be 12 or older.
Cloud 9 Spa staterooms: Ideal if you’re hoping for an extra pampering experience on your cruise, a Cloud 9 Spa ™ stateroom allows quick and easy access to Cloud 9 Spa, where you can whisk yourself away for relaxation. Cloud 9 Spa staterooms are decorated in relaxing, spa-inspired colors. Perfect for couples or solo cruisers looking for the ultimate in luxury.
Family Harbor staterooms: Best for families (with kids all ages), Family Harbor staterooms are next to the Family Harbor lounge, which offers breakfast, snacks, board games and video games. Some family-friendly staterooms accommodate up to five people and have an extra bathroom. Ideal for groups who prefer connecting doors.
Mardi Gras Interior Staterooms
Mardi Gras Interior Staterooms include all the perks of the other staterooms:
- Havana Interior
- Cloud 9 Spa Interior
- Family Harbor Interior
- Premium Interior
Mardi Gras Ocean View Staterooms
Mardi Gras Ocean View Staterooms have windows for gazing out and taking in ocean views.
Mardi Gras Balcony Staterooms
Balcony staterooms let you enjoy romantic sea breezes and stunning views, especially at night. Balcony staterooms on Mardi Gras are ideal for couples seeking privacy.
- Havana Extended Cabana
- Havana Cabana
- Cloud 9 Spa Forward-View Extended Balcony
- Cloud 9 Spa Balcony
- Cloud 9 Spa Cove Balcony
- Premium-View Extended Balcony
- Extended Balcony
- Cove Balcony
- Junior Balcony
The Suites of Mardi Gras
Suites let you stretch out and put your feet up just like you’d do at home. Along with Excel Suites, Mardi Gras includes all the suites and suite perks you’ve come to count on for an excellent experience on our other ships.
Carnival’s Excel Suites come in four categories:
Carnival Excel Presidential Suites: The two largest suites, located on Deck 17, offer spacious living, dining and sleeping areas. Enveloped by an expansive balcony and sweeping sea views, these suites feature a large sunbed and lounging area. In addition to a private, outdoor hot tub and shower, you’ll also have full access to the Cloud 9’s thermal suite and the Havana pool area.
Carnival Excel Aft Suites: Aft Suites have large wrap-around balconies with impressive ocean views, as well as a private, outdoor tub and space for relaxation.
Carnival Excel Corner Suites: These suites are located on the port and starboard sides of the ship. They feature a lounge area, a wet bar and a large wrap-around balcony with ample space for dining and relaxation.
Carnival Excel Suites: These suites are located on Decks 10, 11 and 12, offer areas for dining and relaxing as well as a spacious balcony with loungers and dining space.
Mardi Gras Suites on Carnival’s ships come in a variety of categories:
On Mardi Gras, you won’t lack for options. To get a better idea of how the ship is designed, explore Mardi Gras deck by deck, and get to know the vessel even before you arrive on board.
Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.
It is rumored that when Grand Duke Alexis visited in 1872, his welcoming committee handed out purple, green, and gold beads to the party-goers that year, as they were the colors of his home. The trio of shades came to symbolize the festivities and were later given meanings: purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.
The story of these glazed and frosted pastries dates back to the Medieval Times, when French, Belgian, and Spanish cultures commemorated the 12th day of Christmas with gifts and sweets. Biblically, the kings during this time would have been visiting the newborn baby Jesus, bringing gifts and sweets of their own. That's where the "king" in king cake comes from. Today, the cakes are fried and doughy, glazed and frosted, typically in the Mardi Gras colors. They're usually circular and braided, to resemble a King's crown. Most cakes are baked with a tiny baby figurine on the inside, and whomever finds the toy, as tradition holds, must host the next big party.
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10 Things You Might Not Know About Mardi Gras
This entry was posted on February 9, 2015 by David Yoo .
Mardi Gras is one of the wildest holidays of the entire year.
It is a day of fun, eating, and overall overindulgence. There are massive parades, masked masquerade balls, elaborate floats and a combination of masks, music and mayhem. Many people think that they know what Mardi Gras is all about but we offer of up things that you might not know about Mardi Gras.
1) Mardi Gras has been known by many names including, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Laissez les bons hemp rouler, Martex de Carnaval, Fastan, J'Douvert, Karenava and many more names.
2) The day of the holiday always falls upon the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
3) Louisiana was actually not the first state to hold a Mardi Gras parade. That distinction belongs to Mobile Alabama.
4) The first parade held in New Orleans was in 1837.
5) Most parades are coordinated by small clubs call "krewes" that come together to put together elaborate floats.
6) The tradition of the colorful beads actually started in the early 1900's
7) Some states require by law that any float riders are required to wear masks.
8) The man to first add Mardi Gras to the calendar was Pope Gregory XIII.
9) Purple, Gold, and Green are the offial colors of the holiday each with a symbolic meaning. Purple=Justice Gold=Power Green=Faith
10)The little toy coins found around the holiday are called "doubloons" and "King Cake" is eaten all throughout the carnival season. King cake has a little surprise hidden within usually a little figurine. Finding this in your cake is supposed to bring you good luck for the next year.
This entry was posted in Seasonal Hats, Special Events and tagged fat tuesday on February 9, 2015 by David Yoo . &larr Previous Post Next Post &rarr
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mardi Gras and New Orleans
Happy Mardi Gras! (French for Fat Tuesday) Beads, music, booze, parades and skin are all a large part of the New Orleans’ tradition but there is so much more to know about this festival deeply rooted in tradition.
Below are 10 things you didn’t know about Mardi Gras:
1. It’s Not Just About The French Quarter
2. Mardi Gras Wasn’t Always A Holiday
3. There Are No Strict Open Container Laws During Mardi Gras (Or Ever In Louisiana)
4. Gather Up The Krewe
New Orleans has Krewes (pronounced “crews” the singular is a Krewe, pronounced “crew”). A Krewe is a group that puts on a Mardi Gras parade and/or a ball, according to New Orleans Online. When it is not Mardi Gras season, Krewes are involved in civic and charitable activities. Higher-profile and more expensive Krewes, such as Bacchus or
Proteus, have bigger and more elaborate parades closer to Fat Tuesday. The two most high-profile New Orleans Krewes, Zulu and Rex, have their parades on Mardi Gras day
itself. Lower-profile Krewes have parades further out from Mardi Gras day, and are often tongue-in-cheek. The Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade, for example, features dogs and their owners.
Mardi Gras History
Do you know Mardi Gras history? If not, then you will very soon. It is a time in which many cities, New Orleans in particular, party and have a great time. There is a lot of camaraderie involved and, of course, there are the beads. No one can forget about the beads, considering they are a symbol of this very exciting time.
It was in the early 1700s that Mardi Gras began. The elaborate balls held by the French required that everyone wore masks. People were partying and dancing in the streets until the Spanish took over and decided to outlaw such acts of joy. It wasn't until 1827 that the right to dance in the streets in masks was restored. With this, the many parties that once existed had resumed and a new generation was in charge. Many elite parties were found to be occurring.
As for when Mardi Gras occurs, it takes place 47 days prior to Easter between the dates of February 3 and March 9 on any Tuesday. This depends on the lunar calendar because Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after Spring Equinox. Once it is determined when Easter begins, then it is important to count 47 days before Easter to make sure Mardi Gras is celebrated on the correct day.
Mardi Gras is also referred to as Fat Tuesday and is celebrated in cities all around the world. However, one will find that Mardi Gras history does not leave out the fact that New Orleans is the hub of Mardi Gras celebrations. One will find the celebrations occurring in the French quarter. What one will find are outrageous costumes, beads, hats, masks, and many parades. One cannot pass up going to one of the parades that takes place. They are very exciting.
You may also notice that many women will "flash" others to receive beads. Not all women wearing beads around her neck has "flashed," but some do so to see how many beads they can accumulate. If you see a woman with a lot of beads around her neck, then you can assume that she has possibly done some things to acquire those. That looks to be something that has been adopted along the way. Nevertheless, Mardi Gras is a time when individuals can make their own traditions, which they do.