All around the world today, people are taking part in the last day of Mardi Gras or Carnival as they prepare for the Christian observance of Lent. Here are a few quick facts about the celebration:
- Home of the first: In America, Mardi Gras is most closely linked with New Orleans. However, few people know that Mobile, Ala., boasts the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the United States, started in 1703 by a pair of French brothers – a full 15 years before the founding of New Orleans.
- That King Cake might lead to a chipped tooth: King Cake is a favorite treat during Mardi Gras – in fact, more than 500,000 cakes are sold in New Orleans every year. Each King Cake holds a small plastic baby. Finding the small trinket in your slice grants you luck and prosperity during the year. It also means you have to buy the King Cake next year!
- Colorful pageantry: The traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple, green and gold – where chosen in 1893 with purple symbolizing justice, green for faith and gold for power.
- Talk about #squadgoals: Mystic societies or krewes are an essential part of the celebration of Mardi Gras. These societies put on the various events during the Mardi Gras season and their members are the ones who parade through the streets on elaborate floats, throwing goodies to the revelers below.
- Beads galore: Starting around the late 1800’s krewes began handing out brightly colored necklaces made of glass beads throughout their parade routes. The necklaces were a hit but did not become a staple in the parades until the glass beads were replaced by plastic.
So there you have it – go out and impress your friends and family with all of your Mardi Gras knowledge. And, as they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler or let the good times roll!