Monday, February 11

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

As I wrote last year, Mardi Gras is a Gulf Coast thing, not just a New Orleans thing.
Krewe da Ya Yas, Pensacola Mardi Gras parade

King cake
Hubby and I have been stuffing ourselves with king cake since January 6th.

King cake is a Carnival holiday staple, but watch out. There's a "baby king" hidden inside. If you get the baby in your slice #1 - be careful that you don't chip a tooth, and #2 - you're on the hook for bringing next year's cake.

While New Orleans gets all the media attention for its Mardi Gras madness, the entire Gulf Coast goes crazy for this holiday. In fact Mobile, AL is credited with the first Mardi Gras celebration in 1703 (or 1699 - depends on who you ask).

Mardi Gras revelry was suspended during the Civil War, but was revived (again) in Mobile in 1866. Legend has it that that one man, Joe Cain, rode through the streets on a coal cart, dressed in Chickasaw Indian regalia. Obviously, Joe was also drunk as a skunk (which explains a lot about Mardi Gras parades...)

When Joe passed on, his second funeral procession (it's a long story) was the precursor to the big Sunday parades. Now the Sunday before Mardi Gras is now known in Mobile as "Joe Cain Day," with celebrations rivaling Fat Tuesday.

To an outsider, it seems like the party just keeps adding days (but I'm not complaining)! So here's the schedule:
Mardi Gras costumes from the Krewe of Bowlegs
exhibit in Fort Walton Beach, FL
  • January 6th, Epiphany kicks off the season. Krewes put the finishing touches on their floats. Carnival celebrations and masquerade balls fill up the social calendar.
  • Saturday before Fat Tuesday - parades and partying begin in earnest
  • Sunday before Fat Tuesday - Joe Cain Day (at least in Mobile, AL)
  • Monday before Fat Tuesday - Lundi Gras (You thought I made that one up, didn't you!)
  • 40 days before Easter - Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras!
  • ...followed by Ash Wednesday (or "hangover recovery day?")
Pensacola's Mardi Gras parades are far more family-friendly than those in the Big Easy. Here in Florida you will not see people flashing their chests for beads. In fact, that sort of behavior will get you hauled away by the local police. (Apologies to anyone who was hoping for scandalous photos...)
Krewes here throw beads, candy, moon pies, and other goodies to everyone in the crowd. (A Krewe, pronounced "crew," is a social club that centers around Mardi Gras parades, festivals, and usually hosts a formal Mardi Gras ball for krewe members.)
Krewe of Seville, Pensacola Mardi Gras parade (note Wonder Woman on the bottom tier of the float)
Most of the beads and decorations are purple, gold, and green.
  • Purple represents justice.
  • Green for faith.
  • Gold for power.

Purple, gold, and green have been the primary colors of Mardi Gras for more than a century, according to most accounts.

History aside, the 4-day holiday weekend is still a bit of a drunkfest, but it's all in good fun. There's time for being a proper adult the other 361 days of the year.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Do you have any Mardi Gras stories to share?
Right now my dining room looks like a bead factory exploded... Maybe one of these days I'll figure out how to work those into a giveaway?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Penny for your thoughts?