We are currently near New Orleans in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, where Barbara’s brother lives. We went to our first Mardi Gras parade here in Mandeville, a suburb of New Orleans. There are about 50 different parades – most in the suburbs, very family oriented. We are going into New Orleans later for three more parades (one right after the other on the same route). Each has a theme and they are getting more and more elaborate as we near actual Mardi Gras day on Fat Tuesday, 2/28/17.
Our first Mardi Gras parade was in the pouring rain.
It did not dampen the spirits of the parade participants
Or of the spectators
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. However, Mardi Gras is only one day. The rest is called Carnival Season, which starts 12 days after Christmas, January 6th, and goes to Fat Tuesday. (For fabulous prizes, does anyone know the significance of the twelfth day after Christmas?)
Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of eastern Texas.
In 1703 French settlers in Mobile, Alabama, established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States. The first mystic society, or krewe, was formed in Mobile in 1711, the Boeuf Gras Society. It was these secret societies that first organized the parades. Today, these independent societies (no longer secret, by law) sponsor the floats of the parades. The first Mardi Gras parade held in New Orleans took place in 1837.
You would not believe what Barbara had to do to get those breads.