Mardi Gras

Set on the 25th of February, Mardi Gras is characterized by its traditional masks, floats and the eating of king cakes.

The origins of Mardi Gras date back to medieval periods of pagan worship in Europe. After Christianity became widespread in Rome, the traditions of Mardi Gras became incorporated into Christianity. The exact translation of Mardi Gras is “Fat Tuesday” in French, and it is the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, a time of fasting for many Christians. Essentially, Mardi Gras is the last day of feasting before the long period of fasting leading up to Easter.

The first Mardi Gras celebration in the United States occurred in Mobile, Alabama in 1703, fifteen years before the establishment of New Orleans, where it is most famous today in the United States.

However, the first parade and ball of Mardi Gras was conducted by the Mistick Krewe of Comus in New Orleans, and the first parade where “throws” were given away was conducted by the Twelfth Night Revelers in 1870. This was also the year when king cakes were introduced to the United States. These cakes were named in honor of the three kings who visited baby Jesus and gifted Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. That is also why there is a small, plastic baby figurine inside these king cakes. Whoever received the piece of cake that contained baby Jesus is said to be blessed, but they will also have to bring the king cake for the next year.

In 1872, the first organized daytime parade was held by the Rex Organization. The Grand Duke of Russia, Alexis Romanoff is also due to visit New Orleans and the Mardi Gras celebration this year. Therefore, in order to honor the Grand Duke, Mardi Gras was decorated in green (symbolizes faith), purple (justice), and gold (power), the Romanoff’s family color and Mardi Gras’ official colors today.

If you wish to participate in the Mardi Gras in Atlanta, there is a celebration held at the Colony Square featuring live music and treats on February 25th. For more information about the free event, click here.