It's Cajun French
and it means, "Let the good times roll!"
Carnival and Mardi Gras are celebrated worldwide, but is there any place else that can do it better than New Orleans? I have celebrated Carnival in a couple other places, one of the most flamboyant in Mazatlan, Mexico. New Orleans just seems to have an edge, a little extra something. A flavor. A vibe.
Even if you do not enjoy crowds, busy streets, or partiers, and do your darnedest to stay out of the city you can not NOT be somewhat affected by the colors, king cakes, banners, and high energy that Carnival brings to the city. There is something for everyone; from family-friendly to "keep the kids at home". From Krewe Royalty to Dog Parades. It's insanity, it makes many people happy, and I love it.
Louisiana Carnival is riddled with tradition, etiquette, and even some state laws regarding Mardi Gras. For instance - it's on you if you get smacked by a flying coconut (yes, it could happen) or any other flying object during Carnival parades. You could be fined for wearing a Mardi Gras mask at the wrong time. Ladders on the streets are for the kids. Find the Baby Jesus in your King Cake? Guess who gets to throw the next party? And.....
It's a state holiday.
We can thank the United States for our Mardi Gras celebrations. Upon taking control of New Orleans in 1762, the Spanish put a ban on Mardi Gras. The ban stayed was lifted in 1812 when the city became a US State. Itbecame a state holiday in 1875.
You can't keep a good thing down!
Mardi Gras is one day.
What we think of as Mardi Gras is Carnival. Carnival begins on Epiphany, January 6, and culminates on Fat Tuesday, wherever that falls in the month of February. (fr. Mardi word for Tuesday, Gras word for Fat).
Green, Gold, and Purple
are the official Mardi Gras colors.
Green for Faith, Gold for Power, and Purple for Justice.
It is illegal
NOT to wear a mask (or at the very least paint up) when on a parade float. Yes, illegal.
Masking began as a way to lift social restraints and prejudice between classes so people could enjoy Mardi Gras regardless of social standing. I could go deeper, but my blog is family-friendly! 😉
On the other hand,
it is illegal to WEAR a Mardi Gras mask on any other day but Mardi Gras.
You may not get arrested (though you could get fined) and the key tossed out but don't, just don't, perform this disrespectful act.
The big, beautiful parade floats that we think of as Mardi Gras floats roll from uptown down to Canal Street which is the border of the French Quarter. The Quarter is host to smaller parades and popular, some quite unsavory, traditions and "attractions". If that's your cup of tea, then be safe and laissez les ben temps roller. Otherwise, head uptown on St. Charles and hunker down in the neutral zone with the locals.
Skull and Bones Gang
For over 200 years the Skull and Bones Gang rise before the sun, don their primitive garb, and wake the city with their clattering of bones and skulls. Their first stop? To the cemetery to pray for the people in the city. Their message?-"The Skull and Bones reminds people of their mortality and encourages people to live good lives or suffer the consequences of becoming skull and bones themselves." -wwozneworleans
A message to remember every day, thanks to Mardi Gras.
Watch them here.