If the Rio carnival is for Brazil, Mardi Gras is for the US. Translating to Fat Tuesday from French, Mardi Gras falls on the 13th of February of this month but the excitement has already started around most regions of the US. If you are planning to visit the US, especially New Orleans, you are in for a treat as the festival is celebrated in a really grand manner with parades, food stalls and festivities all throughout the city. The festival is known for its carnivals and the spirit of getting together and is one of the most cheerful festivals you will come across when in the US. But before you prepare to visit the event, let us give you some insights on what the festival is all about.
History and Significance
This festival is also known as Shrove Tuesday and marks a series of carnival celebrations. The occasion starts after the Three Kings day and ends a day before the Ash Wednesday. The major reason why Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday is because of the fact that it emphasizes the ritual of eating richer food delicacies before the commencement of the Lenten season. If you want to trace back the roots of the festival, you will reach medieval Europe, around the regions of Venice, Rome and other French regions. The event is celebrated differently in diverse locations such as in Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden and the US.
While the festive season commences right from Christmas last night and lasts up to the Ash Wednesday in some regions, other countries treat the three days leading to the Ash Wednesday as Mardi Gras. In some parts of the US, social celebrations start right from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve and continuing up to the Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras in the United States of America
Though Mardi Gras is not a full-fledged festival in the US, traditional French and European families celebrate the festival with enthusiasm and spirit. New Orleans has exceptional celebrations of the festival as its history is very much associated with an episode of historic significance. Mardi Gras was brought to the US by the Le Moyne Brothers, during the late 17th century. The state of New Orleans was established by Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville in 1718 and from the 1730s, Mardi Gras became a popular festival, where it was celebrated openly throughout the state. One of the major differences was that there were no parades at that time but there were balls, which ended up being the forerunner for today’s Mardi Gras balls in the state today.
It was not until 1781 that the carnivals and processions of Mardi Gras were introduced and gradually in the 1930s, street processions by masked performers, horseback riders and carriages entered to celebrate Mardi Gras. Further adding to the ritual, newspapers started announcing events and celebrations for Mardi Gras and even came up with carnival editions.
Mardi Gras 2018
If you are in New Orleans, you need to ensure you take part in the festivities as the people over there call it the greatest free show on earth! You don’t need to buy tickets to be part of the festivities. Starting from January, parades will commence but according to the usual practice, the extended weekend from the 9th of February to the 13th of February is the best time to witness the Mardi Gras festival. Some of the most famous parades like Bacchus, Endymion, Rex, Zulu and other celebrations happen during this time. There are also online schedules of parades you can check out and know when to reach where to experience the occasion.
The event is vibrant, colourful, vibrant and one of the most rejuvenating public gatherings you will ever come across in your life. So make sure you attend the event if you are in the US anytime on the occasion. Good times are guaranteed!
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