associated with the City of New
Orleans, Mardi Gras - or "Fat Tuesday" - is the final day of Carnival,
which begins on the Feast
of the Epiphany, or January
Also known as Three
Kings' Day or Twelfth Night,
January 6 celebrates the arrival of the three kings at Jesus'
birthplace. Epiphany, consequently, is a Christian feast day that
celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus
Christ. In New Orleans and elsewhere, Carnival
The festival has its roots in various pagan celebrations of spring,
dating back 5,000 years. Pope Gregory XIII made it a Christian
holiday when, in 1582, he put it on his Gregorian calendar. He placed
Mardi Gras on the day before Ash
Wednesday, the first day of
way, all the debauchery would be finished when it came time to fast and
Much of the first part of the Carnival season in New Orleans is
coronation balls and supper dances hosted by private clubs known as
krewes. The public portion comes to life a couple of weeks before Mardi
Gras when the krewes hit the streets, staging more than 70 parades in
metropolitan New Orleans. It is somestimes referred to as " the biggest
free show on earth."
This is the time preceding Lent in the Christian calendar. In earlier
times, all remaining meat and dairy products had to be consumed during
this period, before the forty-day fast. The word carnival has some
connection to carne or meat.
"Carnival, also known as Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, is a day of ritual
subversion. All the normal rules of society are turned upside down.
You're allowed to get blind drunk, lift your shirt to passersby, rudely
satirize public figures with parade floats - and that's only the mild
version in New Orleans. In the middle ages, it was also time to openly
mock your superiors with fake weddings, trials, even masses. Anything
normally held sacred was ridiculed.
continued in Out
of the Past
If you want to make money, go to Wall Street. If you want to catch
trout, try Montana. If you're ready to party, head for Cajun Country.
Other cultures have great food and music and dance, but no other ethnic
group puts the three together with more spice and joie de vivre than
les bon temps rouler!
Let the good times roll!"
Carnival celebration includes parades,
parties and masquerade balls. Parades
with music, floats and
routes through uptown or midtown
areas of the city, but not in the French Quarter due to its
narrow streets and overhead structures. The parades are organized
by krewes, or local clubs, whose members often ride on the
floats, tossing “throws” to the onlookers.
Gras treat, King Cakes are
gold and green
(Mardi Gras colors) icing or sprinkles. They are baked
with a small trinket inside and the person who receives the prize must
host a Mardi Gras party or provide the next King Cake.
Paczki (pronounced poonch-key) are sometimes referred to as the
"Cadillacs" of doughnuts.
word paczki (plural; singular is paczek)
comes from the Polish word pak, which means "bud." Paczki are circular,
like the buds on trees, and they also expand, or grow, when fried. They
are fat, round, deep-fried rolls served either plain or filled with
fruit or jelly, and then sugar coated. Properly made, they look like
On Paczki Day, or Fat Tuesday (the last day of feasting before Lent),
paczki lovers trek to their favorite bakeries for a taste of the sweet
pastry. Before refrigerators, paczki were enjoyed as a last-minute
fling and a way to use up perishables such as lard, eggs, and cream,
which were prohibited during Lent.
Although paczki began as a Polish tradition and were brought to the
Great Lakes region in the 1900s. their popularity has spread, and they
are now a very trendy food served just once a year. Bakers work around
the clock to make paczki for customers. Fans of paczki buy them
throughout the week before Ash Wednesday, and they are especially
popular on Fat Tuesday. They have crossed ethnic boundaries and are now
loved by everyone.
The official colors for New Orleans' Mardi Gras are purple, green and
represents Justice, Green represents Faith, Gold stands for
The colors were chosen by the King of the Carnival in 1873 and have
stood as the colors since then.
According to some
historians, Mardi Gras has its roots in
a mid-February Roman celebration known as Lupercalia which
honored the god Lupercus, also known as the god of fertility, as well
as the god of agriculture and pastoral shepherds. It is believed that
these rituals and festivities welcomed spring’s
Like other Roman and Greek festivals, Lupercalia
was adopted by the Catholic Church as
a way to
subtly convert pagans to Christianity.
the festival to its belief system, the excess and debauchery of
Lupercalia festivities began to be seen as s prelude to Lent.
Gras is a very
decadent pagan festival, similar to the European tradition of
Carnivale, where people wear masks and behave in uncharacteristic ways.
The energy of these festivals lies between the between the realms of
the mystical and the mundane, where we might meet another version of
a basic mask from a
Put it on and look at yourself in the mirror. Light a candle and turn
of the lights. Continue to look at your reflection, especially your
eyes. You may find you see some odd things, but let these images offer
you insights into your true self.
you feel ready, remove the
mask. Your face will look slightly different, because you have glimpsed
your hidden self and all the potential that lies within you.
Courir de Mardi Gras
celebration dating back to the
earliest days of settlement in Cajun Country, the
Mardi Gras "courir," or run, is a sort of moving pageant or chase held
in many communities of south Louisiana
on the Tuesday
before Ash Wednesday.
Traditions vary from town to town, but most courir begin in the early
morning as costumed participants gather at a central location. A
designated Le Capitaine (leader of the Mardi Gras) explains
rules and traditions that must be followed. Some towns have riders on
horseback, some ride on trailers and some walk or run on foot. Their
mission, generally, is to go
countryside acquiring ingredients for a communal gumbo.
Live chickens are often chased through open fields. Some ingredients
are begged from local farmers; others are scavenged or
mock thievery. The courir usually ends with a feast at the end of the
Dark Masquerade Party Mask
Three Kings Day Carnival Parade
Cake Gift Pack