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10 Fun Facts about Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is right around the corner and everyone is flocking to New Orleans to join in the fun that is Carnival season madness. You may be pretty familiar with some Mardi Gras traditions like celebrating in the French Quarter, watching parades, bar hopping on Bourbon Street, and catching tons of beads; But, here we have 10 very interesting facts you may have not known about Mardi Gras.

  1. So what does Mardi Gras mean? It’s actually French for “Fat Tuesday.” It marks the last day of “Carnival” season – which is characterized by tons of parties, decadence, and feasting – which is pretty much where we get the “fat” from. 
  2. Mardi Gras has its roots in the Catholic faith. Despite the debauchery that is modern day Mardi Gras and no scriptural ties, Carnival season marks the time after Advent and before Lent. Basically, Mardi Gras is getting all your sinning in before Ash Wednesday.
  3. Most people think of just parades when they think of Mardi Gras, but the season’s traditions start before the floats begin to roll. The kings and queens of each krewe, or New Orleans social group, begin the season by hosting formal, invite-only balls
  4. It’s hard not to notice that during Mardi Gras everything is decked out in the colors purple, green and gold. They actually mean something! Purple stands for justice. Green stands for faith. Gold stands for power. In 1872 they became the season’s official colors.
  5. King Cake takes its name from the Bible’s three kings. And the plastic baby stands for baby Jesus. It celebrates Epiphany, a Christian holiday that reflects on the kings visiting Jesus.
  6. Mardi Gras isn’t just a New Orleans thing. Carnival is celebrated throughout the Gulf Coast and internationally in Brazil, Germany, Italy, Colombia, Trinidad, Mexico, and more.
  7. Pope Gregory XIII made Mardi Gras an official Christian holiday in 1582, but it didn’t makes it’s way to New Orleans until the 17th
  8. Flashing your boobs is completely illegal. Though it’s a common occurrence on Bourbon Street, flashing at a parade will most likely get you arrested. 
  9. New Orleans doesn’t require any of its bars to close at a certain time, and embraces the “go-cup” tradition, which is asking for a plastic cup to carry your alcoholic beverage in as you leave. The city allows alcohol to be consumed on the street as long as it’s in an unbreakable container. Of course, this doesn’t mean drunkenness in public is legal.
  10. It’s illegal to ride on a parade float without wearing a mask. This was a law put in place to break down social barriers and allow everyone participating to associate with whomever they want.