A Mardi Gras END to Christmas Festivities

As Mardi Gras/Carnival Season begins
(with festivities that continue until Lent)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Edited reblog from Happy Eve before Mardi Gras, 2015

About Mardi Gras – why here (and NOW)?

Since my ex-husband and I both attended grad school in New Orleans, we had three years to experience the celebrations of Mardi Gras – from King Cake parties to balls to parades and so-much-more. I relish the opportunity to share “insider” Mardi Gras knowledge gleaned from my personal experiences in New Orleans over several seasons.

I’m posting this reblog just a tad early this year, in case some of you might be inspired to set up a quick trip while there still might be a hotel room to be had.

Mardi Gras beads in the traditional colors: green, purple and gold – thrown from the floats by MANY different Krew members riding in the many, MANY parades they sponsor

Just A BIT of Mardi Gras history

For those who don’t know much about it, the entire Mardi Gras experience is truly so-much-more than the final night of the festival that happens on Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday to many Christians) – which also the last feast day before the long “fast” days of the period of Lent observed by many Christian churches.

Although the many weeks of Mardi Gras revelry have now become a protracted season of, effectively, blowing it all out before you have to give it up for Lent, its roots reach far back to pagan celebrations held long before Catholicism took hold.

History & Mardi Gras buffs click to
for a whole lot more!

Not ALWAYS New Orleans – and almost wasn’t

When they think of Mardi Gras, most people think of New Orleans, Louisiana. But, in the United States anyway, Mardi Gras was first observed in Mobile, Alabama — in 1703, back when it was a colony of French soldiers.

Although Mardi Gras has been  an official state holiday in Louisiana since the State declared it a legal holiday in 1875, few people are aware that it was almost banned entirely in 1856 due to looting, rampant vandalism and worse.

Hoping to save the festival, The Mystick Krewe of Comus (New Orleans’ first Mardi Gras society), held a secret meeting on January 4th, 1857, to plan New Orleans’ first parade — which hit the streets on  February 24th, 1857, considered the birth of modern New Orleans Mardi Gras!

According to Carl Nivale, “From the moment the first float rolled, several important Mardi Gras traditions were born:

  1. Carnival organizations began to be referred to as Krewes;
  2. Krewes were to be secret societies;
  3. Parades and floats were brought together under a unifying theme; and
  4. Grand bal masques were held afterwards.”

Parades and Floats

The Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans now seem to be considered the archetype of the masquerades and street-revelry that take place in other parts of the United States on the weekend before the first day of Lent.

In New Orleans, however, the fun goes on for much longer.

Although there are now parades and floats in the weeks preceding the “official” start of the Carnival festivities (leading up to what most people think of as New Orleans Mardi Gras), the whole shebang actually begins on Twelfth Night — King’s Day, the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th.  That is the day when the first of the many “official” Krewe parades roll out.

Celebrations continue until Fat Tuesday,
always the day before Ash Wednesday,
the first day of Lent.

Fat Tuesday 2017 falls on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. It is never on the same date each year because Easter Sunday is never on the same Sunday each year (which determines Ash Wednesday).

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

Mardi Gras in Washington

MysticKrewDClogoThanks to the efforts of the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians, there is even a lavish Mardi Gras celebration in Washington, D.C., for displaced Louisianians living in our nation’s capital.

It also serves as Mardi Gras for politicians, whether or not they are able to travel to New Orleans for Fat Tuesday. This year it will be held the weekend of February 9-11, 2017. (“Three days of networking and economic development, complete with a side of revelry, elegant celebration, and fun!” so says the Jefferson Chamber)

The weekend includes a party with the Louisiana Congressional Delegation, a dinner dance with the presentation of the Court, and a New Orleans style Mardi Gras Ball, this year on Saturday, February 11th.

With some cash and just a bit of pull you can wrangle an invite — but be aware that, except for the costumed Krewe members, it has always been strictly a black tie affair.

One of my NOLA friends actually had the opportunity to serve as one of the fifty Princesses in the court one year (yes, 50! – one for each state).

She assured me that it is a lavish affair indeed – funded personally by the Krewe, its members individually, and the King and Queen (who are also expected to give thank you gifts to their court as well as each of their dance partners.)

The King’s gift given to each of the Princesses her year, for example, was a small solid gold replica of that year’s doubloon, dangling from a gold chain.

Each of the 50 Dukes received silver goblets – as in, more than one goblet!

An honor usually reserved for the wealthy, rumor has it that businessmen have actually mortgaged their homes to pay for the experience of becoming New Orleans royalty for a season (or to pay for that experience for a daughter).

New Orleans Revelry

Traditional Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans spotlight Rex, the King of the Carnival and Monarch of Merriment, as well as Comus, the God of Revelry.

Many people dress up in eye-catching costumes (plus various states of barely-dressed in the French Quarter), and spectacular black-tie balls are held by almost every single one of the many Krewes. New Orleans debutantes are formally introduced to New Orleans society each year at the Ball Tablaeu.

Experiencing it for yourself

If being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras is on your bucket list, know that the most popular time to visit is the extended weekend leading up to what is commonly thought of as “Mardi Gras” by most people who haven’t spend at least a year in New Orleans (that’s February 24-28 this year, 2017).

Remember, Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  You’ll need to plan to arrive no later than early Saturday, February 25, 2017 in order to enjoy the extended weekend of festivities.

That will allow you to catch the most popular and lavish of the parades from some of the oldest Krewes, like Endymion, Bacchus, Zulu and Rex — as well as the festive celebrations throughout the whole city that are held as the season begins to draw to a close.

Unless you already have a place to stay, if you plan to be there this Mardi Gras, you’d better start calling around to find one NOW.  Hotel rooms sell out rapidly and early.  Since no parades go down Bourbon Street or into the French Quarter, you won’t miss it all by staying further out, by the way. The parades used to begin on St. Charles Avenue near Napoleon – but check with the Chamber, your hotel, or one of the related content links I’ve provided to verify what’s happening this year.

For those of you like me, who struggle during the typical morning hours, the parades can last as late as 11 p.m. near the end of the route. Streetcars stop running in the Garden District during Mardi Gras, so plan accordingly.

There are also parades in the suburban areas like Metairie, which is only 10 minutes away from downtown New Orleans. (Metairie’s Caesar parade, the Saturday before Mardi Gras weekend, is the parade Disneyworld features on Mardi Gras day.)

Related post with ALL the 2017 details HERE

The Many Themes of Mardi Gras

There is never an official Mardi Gras theme since there is no official Mardi Gras — it is NOT sponsored by the city.

Each Krewe decides on its own theme each year, designs its own floats, sponsors its own events, and selects its own king, queen and court — which are often kept secret until the parade or, in some cases, the ball.

Costumes, floats, some of their throws — and, if they have one, their “official” Mardi Gras poster — reflect each Krewe’s theme, which changes every year.

Krewe members also absorb most (if not all) of the cost of their own throws – those beads and doubloons the crowd lusts after, expecting them to flow like waterfalls.

Think about THAT the next time you grumble about the rising expense of Halloween candy for a relative handful of ghouls and goblins — and make sure you scream “Thank you!” at least as loudly as you scream “Throw me something, Mister!”

There are now dozens and dozens of Krewes, by the way, and many of them are named after figures from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology (although a few are named after the neighborhood where they parade).  In New Orleans they serve as “social clubs,” not totally unlike the Kiwanis, etc. in other towns.  The most obvious difference is that their big blow-out activity is always Mardi Gras, and much of their fund-raising is toward that end.

Some of the larger, more socially prominent Krewes hire big-name celebrity entertainers and invite celebrities to ride on their floats as Grand Marshals. The most popular of the concerts are expected to draw more than 20,000 bead-wearing revelers, and at least one of the Krewes generally books the Superdome for its annual Extravaganza.

Like I said – LAVISH!

There’s A LOT of money in New Orleans that is dedicated to each year’s Mardi Gras celebration, and it is a BIG deal (and quite the honor) to be invited to be in the court of one of the more popular Krewes.  Krewe fathers put the names of their little girls “into the hat” for consideration YEARS before the selection is actually made.

The dresses alone, worn by the Queen and her attendants, are such spectacular designer numbers that it is not unheard of for them to be encased in glass or plexiglass boxes showcased in the owners’ homes (like life-sized versions of the smaller ones that you will see in the homes of doll collectors).

Interesting momento of the amazing event, yes?  Most of the rest of us have only a few beads and doubloons to remind us.

And so much MORE . . .

Click over to the the original post: Happy Eve before Mardi Gras, for 968 more words describing my experience with Grand Balls and Call-outs, beads, doubloons and other Mardi Gras collectables thrown from the floats, King Cakes and King Cake Parties, and other Mardi Gras customs.

Have YOU ever celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

If not, have you celebrated it anywhere else?
Have you ever hosted a Mardi Gras or King Cake party?
Do share your experience in the comments.

If you’ve written about it on your blog or website, leave us a link (only one per comment or you’ll be auto-spammed).  Let’s SHARE our celebrations and traditions in the spirit of good will toward ALL.

AS ALWAYS, comments are encouraged and eagerly awaited — as long as you don’t make individual people wrong, and do your best to avoid the dreaded “should” word, I will approve all comers (link-spammers shot on sight, however).

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(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

23 Responses to A Mardi Gras END to Christmas Festivities

  1. lfish64 says:

    I love New Orleans and Mardi gras. I lived in Challmette La 30 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting, reading, and letting me know. btw – I recognized your gravitar as the only male commenting on Bernadette’s Mrs Santa post (how very progressive of you 🙂 ) – and tried to visit a moment ago when you liked this post. All I saw was a notice that your site has been shut down by the WordPress Gremlins for TOS violations – did you know? Is it a temporary glitch? Can you even SEE this?

      They go by some algorithm that seems to penalize folks for the very thing I would think they’d want (too many likes closed down a number of blogs some time back – tried to claim it was link-phishing – but without checking out the sites first.)

      SEE When Did WordPress Change? for my post in protest when this happened before – that explains things a bit better. Don’t try to locate any of the links, however – they ALL disappeared when the site was allowed back up – read the comments for more info.

      They DID finally reinstate him, but it was a real hassle for him (and, perhaps included a gag order about the details? We never heard much about the follow-on)

      Good luck – and thanks so much for stopping by.


  2. Pingback: Five Golden Rings – from a Post-Christmas Sale | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. One of the items on my wife’s bucket list! Great post, it looks like a fantastic party!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is – and the more you know before you go, the more fun it becomes. I hope the two of you are able to make it happen for her. Start now for *next* Mardi Gras so you’ll have time to make it a perfect memory you will cherish forever. Happy New Year – and thanks so much for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers, thanks Madelyn!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cheers to you as well – we can ALL use more of those. 🙂 xx, mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Eugenia says:

    I’ve been to Mardi Gras once. It’s something everyone should add to their bucket list. It’s fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for adding your endorsement! It is most certainly a memory like no other – which I tried to outline in this article.

      New Orleans is a unique town, and Mardi Gras is just one event that makes it so. The Jazz Festival is fabulous as well (though it happens when the weather can be hot-hot-hot!).

      I hope 2017 is the year that brings every hearts’ desire to you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bernadette says:

    I was lucky enough to go to radio Gras once and it is so much fun. Definitely an event that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Something tells me that the auto-correct gremlins changed “Mardis” Gras to “radio” Gras – lol 🙂 – unless, of course, this is a New Orleans event I missed myself when I was there.

      I’m glad you had a wonderful time and feel lucky to have experienced it. Thanks for taking the time to read about it here – and to share your enjoyment with all of us here.

      Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bernadette says:

        AAARGH! I feel like Charlie Brown and the football with those autocorrect gremlins.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know – it is amazing what they come up with. And then, sometimes my fingers do a bit of strange walking on their own (but I usually catch those!) It’s happened to everyone – and has funded more that a few funny memes. Oh well! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely, I think New Orleans is on my list! 🤗🤗🤗🤗


    • Oh good – my hope, when I first wrote the piece was that anyone who was sort-of thinking about it might be inspired to move it up on their Bucket Lists (or to add it as a new item). It’s a unique experience I am personally grateful to have in my arsenal of memories. Happy New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. painkills2 says:

    I went to a Mardi Gras parade in Galveston, Texas, of all places. I was not impressed, but then, I don’t like crowds. Bunch of drunk and horny people partying. Thinking about it now, I can’t recall that I had any kind of fun at the parade… Damn, I really am a fuddy-duddy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • No way! Crowds and drinking are not a mix that is everybody’s cup of tea. Many people prefer to watch from above – with a quieter bunch of people on a New Orleans balcony or from the lovely porch of a big beautiful house on the parade route, with hosts they know and with whom they have more in common than “throw me something mister.” I’m sure you’re NOT a fuddy-duddy.

      I was young when I was there, and ready to leave grad school activities behind to party hearty for a bit of a break. Everybody who loves a good blow-out would cherish the memory of a New Orleans Mardi Gras. If it’s on their bucket list, I wanted to encourage them to go for it.

      Happy New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A week there summer 1985. Hotter than Miami, I think. Loved the bars, the used book shops and the food. I imagine it has changed a great deal since then. East side restoration was starting then. Must re Confederacy removed now as I’ve heard ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t been back since my grad school days – before THE hurricane (and back when New Orleans still held Hurricane Parties every time there was a warning) – so I’m not sure exactly what the reclamation project included and excluded. A girlfriend who grew up there (who now lives in New York) says she’s heard that quite a bit had to change, but that the town pulled together to keep the spirit.

      As for heat – whew! As they say, it’s not the heat it’s the humidity: the only place I’ve ever been when the humidity could be practically 100% without rain! (It’s because it is below sea level, they always said, which never explained much for me!)

      Thanks for the visit – and for taking the time to let me know that you did. Happy New Year.


  9. I have never been to Mardi Gras. However, in 1978, when my children were missing — my ex had absconded with them — at one point, the trail led to New Orleans. I ended up one night in a high speed chase through the streets of New Orleans. I never did find out who was chasing me or why, although I have my theories — but I escaped.

    Shiver… I am so glad those days are long gone! My children were returned to me in 1979, thank the Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was horrified as I read this comment – what a terrible experience for you. I am sorry that this post brought it back during the holiday season, but relieved to know that you got your kids back – and that nothing worse happened during the high speed chase. WHAT a memory to have attached to New Orleans. My time there wasn’t quite so eventful. Happy New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, what I remember most about New Orleans is “Yay!! I got away!!” It made me feel almost bullet proof!

        I had a private detective stationed nearby at the time, who saw the chase happen. He said he ran the license plate on the car chasing me, and it was stolen. Knowing my ex, whatever would have happened if I hadn’t gotten away, probably would have been very bad. But YAY, I got away!! I was 25 then, I am 63 now, and I stopped looking over my shoulder years ago.

        Here’s a really good memory I have of my short time in New Orleans: the filet mignon at a French Quarter restaurant called The Embers was the BEST steak I’ve ever had. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • The food in New Orleans is amazing almost anywhere you go, actually. The town is famous for it. But the BEST thing about your New Orleans memory, however, is that you got away unscathed and were able to put the scary stuff to rest so you could stop looking over your shoulder.

          We ALL have incredible histories, don’t we? Learning about the bloggers in the community, bit by bit – making them “real” – is one of the things that keeps me blogging. We all have a driving need to connect – in a matter that is a bit deeper than a tweet or a snapchat. At least *I* do!

          Here’s to a truly connected, loving New Year.

          Liked by 1 person

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