It is said that for thousands of years revelers have celebrated Mardi Gras throughout the world, but in Louisiana –it is believed that the first Mardi Gras happened on March 2, 1699. That’s when Iberville and Bienville, two French explorers, landed just outside of New Orleans, a place they named Pointe du Mardi Gras, and held their own celebration. It wasn’t until 100s of years later, in 1827, that the streets of New Orleans would fill again with dancing merrymakers in colorful costumes ahead of the Lenten season.
Now fast forward ten years later – the first-ever parade with floats rolled down the streets of New Orleans, a tradition that continues today. And what’s Fat Tuesday without purple, green, and gold all around. History says the first daytime carnival King back in 1872 selected the colors based on their meaning – Purple for Justice – Gold for Power – Green for Faith.
While New Orleans may be the heart of the celebrations, 200 miles east, the second largest Mardi Gras celebrations are held in Lafayette, Louisiana, the home of our global headquarters. Parades kick off ten days prior to Fat Tuesday. The city celebrates with a festival filled with rides, dog parades, children parades, a Queens parade, and of course a King’s parade. And it doesn’t stop there, outside the city limits; in the countryside you’ll find carousers on foot and even horseback chasing chickens and gathering ingredients for the community gumbo. It’s a tradition called, Courir de Mardi Gras, and it dates back to the early 1930s.
No matter where you are in Louisiana during this time of celebration, you will find parade goers out on the streets yelling “throw me something mister” in rain, shine, and yes even sleet, or what we like to call “sneaux ice.” It’s a tradition that lives strong in every Louisianan; after all it’s the only state where Mardi Gras is a legal holiday
Have you ever been to a Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana? Share you experience with us in the comment section.