Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Laissez les bon temps roulet

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the French-language term for the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, a traditional day for eating rich foods made with sugar, butter and other fats, and meat. This was because it was the last day before the start of Lent, which in Christian religious tradition was associated with ritual fasting. The term has come to stand for related celebrations, which in some areas take place for several days or even weeks before Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in the world.

As is the case with many Carnivals, the New Orleans Carnival season has its roots in preparing for the start of the Christian season of Lent. In New Orleans the season consists of parades, balls and king cake parties. The festivities are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French), the day before Ash Wednesday. There is usually a major parade each day with many days having several large parades.

Carnival parades in New Orleans are prepared by Carnival krewes. The organizers on the krewe floats toss strings of plastic colorful beads, coins, decorated plastic cups, and small toys and trinkets. The krewes follow the same parade schedule and route every year.

The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple to represent justice, gold to represent power and green to represent faith. The colors date back to 1872 and were selected by the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia while visiting New Orleans. In 1892, the Rex Parade theme “Symbolism of Colors” assigned the colors their meanings.

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