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America's Greatest Party - Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Last Updated: Sep-25-2011, Hits: 1,380, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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America's Greatest Party - Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday came from Paris, France where it has been celebrated since the Middle Ages but here in America we had to wait until 1699. In that year, the French explorer Iberville reconnoitered the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico and ended up at a point some 60 miles south of current day New Orleans on March 3rd - true to French form they christened the spot Point du Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras predates the French though and has its origins in pagan tradition and festivals from Roman times and even before them. With Christianity on the rise and increasingly being adopted, the leaders of the church recognized that the best way of increasing adoption of the new religion was to take the old pagan dates and incorporate them in the Christian calendar. Mardi Gras was incorporated as the last big blowout before Lent and its period of abstinence for forty days and nights.

In the late 18th Century, pre-Lent balls and festivals were increasingly held in New Orleans when under the rule of the French but with the Spanish taking over they increasingly tried to put an end to the holiday and this continued under American governorship when New Orleans was taken over in 1803. Americans being always ready for a party, it did not take long for the American governor to be persuaded by the local Creoles to allow the festival to be re-introduced and in 1823 Mardi Gras was being celebrated with parties and merriment once more in the city.

It was in 1827 that the street masks used by so many revelers were actually legalized and by the early 19th Century, Mardi Gras was developing into the carnival we know today with maskers on foot and elaborately decorated horse drawn carriages. Mardi Gras had a violent reputation however, and was close to being banned on numerous occasions until a small group of former "Cowbellians" interceded (Cowbellians were the group representing the New Year's Eve parade in Mobile, Alabama at that time). The result was the Comus organization in 1857 which saved the Mardi Gras party and coined the term "krewe" as well as instituting several Mardi Gras traditions including the secret Carnival society, a theme for the parade and holding the tableau ball.

Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff of Russia visited in 1872 and provided the inspiration for the first appearance of Rex - the King of the Carnival. Rex immediately became instantly synonymous with Mardi Gras and presented the first parade held during the day as well as choosing the Carnival's color scheme of purple, gold and green along with a flag and Mardi Gras anthem as well as having a retinue in the form of the Knights of Momus.

Some notable krewes include Proteus who debuted in 1882 when the Carnival paid homage to Egyptian mythology; the Jefferson City Buzzards are the granddaddy of all marching teams and were formed in 1890 while the first black marching krewe, The Original Illinios Club appeared on the scene in 1894 and Les Mysterieuses were also founded as the first women marching krewe. More recently, the Zulu krewe appeared, and are an all black organization formed in 1916 and who have become one of the most popular aspects of the carnival but though the 20th Century created difficulties with war and the Depression numerous other krewes followed including the Elks, the Krewes of Hermes and Babylon while the Krewe of Venus arranged the first women's parade in 1941.

More recently, numerous other krewes have been formed which reflect our changing society but just as many older krewes passed from the rolls and ceased to exist but nevertheless, the party and show must go on.

About the Author
Lawrence Reaves writes on many subjects. For a business and residential New Orleans moving company you need a company with over 100 years of experience in storage and moving services.

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