|About Mardi Gras|
from your friends at Mardi Gras Outlet
What does Mardi Gras mean, anyway?
Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," which is the day before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent). Just as Easter changes dates from year to year, so does Mardi Gras (it is 46 days earlier). Of course, we're only talking about "Mardi Gras Day." In 2012 Mardi Gras will fall on February 21st (see future Mardi Gras dates below). While the date of Fat Tuesday (the day the party ends) changes each year, the Carnival season always begins on the Twelfth Night -- January 6th -- twelve nights after Christmas.
When is Mardi Gras?
The term "Mardi Gras" is commonly used to describe the entire season of Carnival. For example, a visitor to New Orleans for Mardi Gras may not ever see the final day, but will have experienced the fun and traditions of Mardi Gras nonetheless. In parts of the country that celebrate Carnival heavily (such as the Deep Southeastern US), many parades and balls will take place in the weeks prior to Fat Tuesday.
Colors of Mardi Gras
At any Mardi Gras celebration you will notice that three colors seem to take center stage. Purple, Green & Gold (often abbreviated PGG) are the official colors of Mardi Gras. Just as Christmas is associated with green & red, Mardi Gras has official colors. If it's not purple, green and gold, it's just not for Mardi Gras! These colors were established by Rex (the King of Mardi Gras) in 1872. Twenty years later the colors were given meaning: Purple represents Justice, Green is for Faith, and Gold symbolizes power. As a side note, Metallic Gold and Golden Yellow are both acceptable for Mardi Gras colors, but true Mardi Gras lovers would certainly use metallic whenever possible. Flashy, tacky and over-the-top is the Mardi Gras way!
Another peculiarity to those not yet familiar with Mardi Gras would be the King Cake. This sweet oval-shaped cake is covered with Purple, Green & Gold sugar or icing (or both!) and a small plastic baby is hidden somwhere inside the cake. Why is a plastic baby in this cake?, you ask. Once again, it is due to the religious ties of Mardi Gras -- the plastic baby represents the Christ child. Whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby inside is required to provide the next King Cake. King Cakes are eaten throughout the Carnival season -- January 6th until Mardi Gras Day.
Where is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is heavily celebrated in many cities all over the Southeastern United States. Millions of people in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida enjoy Mardi Gras parades in their own cities. Millions more will travel hundreds of miles just to see it with their own eyes. While the celebration has begun to spread throughout the country, many cities outside of the Deep South have found the celebration difficult to control. Mardi Gras, as any visitor to New Orleans will quickly become aware, is more than just a scheduled party. It is a time to Let the Good Times Roll!, to enjoy life, great food, drinks and friends. It is a time in indulge, it is a state of mind shared by everyone involved, it is a wonderful experience!
Who puts on Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras would not be possible without the many Krewes which hold lavish balls and parades. A Krewe is an organization that is usually private and by invitation only, although some are now more open to public membership. All of the Krewes will hold "Balls" (private parties), and many will also have a parade. It is at the parades where the public gets involved.
Mardi Gras Parades
At the parades revelers will line up (sometimes twenty people deep!) to marvel at the costumed riders on their magnificent floats. From these floats, Krewe members throw beads, candy, cups, doubloons, toys and trinkets (called 'throws') to the crowds. A parade usually consists of between ten and forty floats, which are often separated by marching bands, dance teams, or some other performing group.
Experience Mardi Gras Yourself
If you haven't experienced Mardi Gras yourself, you really should begin planning a trip now! There are many aspects of Mardi Gras, and it truly is for everyone. Despite what you may see on TV, Mardi Gras is not just for drunken college kids. Most people are not aware that outside of the inner-most parts of the French Quarter, families can and do enjoy Mardi Gras parades in a wholesome environment and have just as much fun. Whether you put on your tux and head to the Ball, or put on your sneakers and head to the parade, or put on your costume and head to the French Quarter, you are sure to find a Mardi Gras experience that you will never forget.
Past & Future Mardi Gras Dates
- 2004 - February 24
- 2005 - February 8
- 2006 - February 28
- 2007 - February 20
- 2008 - February 5
- 2009 - February 24
- 2010 - February 16
- 2011 - March 8
- 2012 - February 21
- 2013 - February 12
- 2014 - March 4
- 2015 - February 17
- 2016 - February 9
- 2017 - February 28
Of course, if you simply cannot make it to this part of the country for Mardi Gras, you can always recreate the fun times at home -- and that's what we're here for. Have a great time!