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The History of Mardi Gras


The History of Mardi Gras * * Lupercalia The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to Ancient Romans. The Ancient Romans would celebrate Lupercalia in mid February (Feb ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The History of Mardi Gras

The History of Mardi Gras
  • The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to
    Ancient Romans.
  • The Ancient Romans would celebrate Lupercalia in
    mid February (Feb. 15).
  • Lupercalia was a circus-like festival that
    honored the Roman diety Lupercus, the god of

  • When Christianity arrived in Rome, the early
    church fathers decided to incorporate certain
    pagan rituals rather than to abolish them.
  • Carnival became a period of abandonment and
    merriment that preceded the penance of Lent (a
    symbolic Christian pentinence of 40 days
    commencing on Ash Wednesday and ending at Easter).

Carnival cont.
  • During Carnival, there were several days of
  • Participants would dress in spectre (ghost)
    costumes and wear masks.
  • Eventually, the festival spread to other European

One Version of Mardi Gras in America
  • Mardi Gras arrived in America with French
    explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de
    Bienville in 1699.
  • He launched an expedition up the Mississippi
  • Iberville set up camp on the Westbank of the
    river and named the site Point du Mardi Gras in
    honor of the festival which was being celebrated
    that very day in France (March 3).

Other versions of Mardi Gras in America
  • One version states that Mardi Gras celebrations
    arrived with early French settlers in the state
    of Louisiana.
  • Another version states that Mardi Gras in New
    Orleans arrived in 1827 with a group of students
    who recently returned from Paris.
  • These students put on costumes and danced through
    the streets. The inhabitants of New Orleans
    quickly caught their enthusiasm and followed

Meaning of Mardi Gras
  • Mardi Gras literally means Fat Tuesday in
  • It is called this because Mardi Gras falls on the
    day before Ash Wednesday, which is the last day
    before Lent (a forty day season of prayer and
    fasting observed by the Roman Catholic Church
    that ends on Easter Sunday).
  • Fat Tuesday is thought to have come from the
    ancient Pagan custom of parading a fat ox through
    the town streets during holidays, which were
    filled with excessive eating, and drinking prior
    to a period of fasting.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • The exact date of the first Mardi Gras cannot be
  • But it is known that from 1827 to 1833, New
    Orleans Mardi Gras festivals became more and
    more elaborate.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans cont.
  • The first documented parade occurred in 1837.
  • These parades centered around maskers on foot, in
    carriages, and on horseback.
  • Mardi Gras quickly gained a negative reputation
    due to the violent behavior associated with the
    maskers of the 1840s and 1850s.
  • Eventually, the press started to call for an end
    to the festivities.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans cont.
  • Luckily in 1857, six men saved Mardi Gras when
    they formed the Comus organization.
  • This organization showed that the celebration
    could be safe and added beauty to the
  • The Mystick Krewe of Comus presented its 1857
    Torchlight Parade with a theme taken from
    "Paradise Lost" written by John Milton.

  • Comes was the first organization to use the word
    krewe to describe itself and to name itself
    after a mythological character.
  • They also started the customs of having a
    secret Carnival society, having a parade with a
    unifying theme with floats, and of having a ball
    after the parade.

Twelfth Knight Revelers
  • The Twelfth Knight Revelers first made their
    appearance in 1871.
  • This is when they began the custom of giving a
    young woman a cake with a gold bean hidden inside
    of the cake.
  • This is the origin of the king cake and this
    young woman was made the first queen of Mardi

  • The Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov of
    Russia visited New Orleans in 1872 and the Krewe
    of Rex made their debut.
  • Rex began the tradition of King of Carnival and
    introduced the official colors of Mardi Gras
    purple, gold, and green.
  • Purple is symbolic of justice, gold is symbolic
    of power, and green is symbolic of faith.

Other Krewes
  • Proteus formed in 1882. They debuted with an
    Egyptian mythology theme.
  • In 1890, The Jefferson City Buzzards was
    organized. They were the first marching club.
  • The Original Illinois Club was formed in 1894.
    They were the first black organization.

Other Krewes cont.
  • Les Mysterieuses was the first female
    organization and formed in 1896.
  • Zulu was formed in 1809 as a spoof to Rex and
    quickly became popular. King Zulu wore a lard can
    crown and had a banana stalk scepter.
  • The Krew of Alla was formed in 1934 and brought
    the celebration to the Westbank.

Mardi Gras Today
  • Today, there are many Krewes and Mardi Gras is
    not only celebrated in New Orleans, but many
    other states and some countries.
  • Mardi Gras is called the Greatest Free Show on
    Earth! because the parade organizations are
    totally funded by its members. Most of these
    krewes have restrictive membership policies and
    have developed from private social clubs.

  • "The History of Mardi Gras." Welcome to East
    Jefferson Parish's Exclusive Community Web Site.
    17 May 2009 lthttp//
  • "Mardi Gras History Mardi Gras in New Orleans."
    Mardi Gras New Orleans Mardi Gras in New
    Orleans. 17 May 2009lthttp//www.mardigrasneworlean
  • history.htmlgt.
  • "The Traditions Of Mardi Gras." Penumbra. 17 May
    2009 lthttp//