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The History and Customs of Mardi Gras

Mardigras
by

A Ravain

on 26 March 2013

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Transcript of The History and Customs of Mardi Gras

By Emmie Ravain Mardi Gras
S U R V E Y Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras is a French word that translates to "Fat Tuesday". Even though Mardi Gras has come to refer to a two-week celebration, it all leads up to Mardi Gras Day, or "Fat Tuesday."

It is always the last Tuesday before the beginning of the Catholic season of Lent. The French also call this day Shrove Tuesday. Germans call it Fastnacht; people from Brazil say Carnivale; and in England they say Pancake Tuesday. No matter what you call it they all come together as one big celebration, Mardi Gras.

The day before Ash Wednesday is when Fat Tuesday takes place. In the past Catholics were not allowed to eat fatty foods during Lent. What they did was they would gather up all of their fattening foods like butter, milk, and eggs and make a bunch of pancakes. They would have a big party for the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. This was their way of having a celebration before Lenten Season.

Fat Tuesday in New Orleans starts bright and early with the Zulu parade rolling down St. Charles Avenue. The Rex parade and truck parades follow. Thousands of families and tourists line the streets of the city to get a glimpse of King Rex or catch a famous Zulu coconut. Carnival Balls Carnival balls are some of the most exciting parties you will ever attend. These private parties are held for each Mardi Gras krewe. Sometimes masquerade balls, these evenings are held to honor the parade riders with special toasts, big ceremonies, and nights of dancing and great food. Most balls are private and you have to be in their krewe to get invited. It is a true honor to get invited to one of these private balls.

In recent years, a few of the Mardi Gras superkrewes have opened their balls to the public. For a fee, you can attend and experience all the fun right along with krewe members.

At these balls, the krewe's king and queen and court members are presented in their beautiful, elaborate costumes. Some of them are themed. The people that go to these particular balls have to wear costume that are fitting to the theme. Most of the time people dress up as animals, fairies, and characters from Greek mythology and religions. This is because most Mardi Gras parades are named after Greek gods and godesses.

There is a special ball that kicks off the countdown to Mardi Gras. This ball is called The 12th Night Revelers Ball. It is held twelve nights after Christmas. Carnival season then continues until Fat Tuesday. Throughout the carnival season, about sixty Mardi Gras balls are thrown. Carnival balls are just another great Mardi Gras tradition. Carnival Krewes Rex:
King of Carnival King Rex is the king of all Mardi Gras. "Rex" means king in Latin. He became a very big part of Mardi Gras celebrations in 1872. There is a whole parade named after King Rex. This parade is the last parade that roles during Mardi Gras. It is held on Mardi Gras day.

It is always a big secret each year who will be King Rex. As part of tradition, Rex arrives in New Orleans on Lundi Gras, the Monday before Fat Tuesday, by riverboat on the Missippi River. He remains masked until his parade the next day so no one can tell who he is. The next day he leads the celebration of Fat Tuesday.

Rex and his queen have a special gold float. To be fit for a king and queen, it is decorated very elegant and fancy. When it passes Gallier Hall on the parade route, it stops and the mayor of New Orleans and King Rex have a special toast to honor that year's successful Mardi Gras. Parades At the heart and soul of Mardi Gras are the parades that wind through the streets of New Orleans for the fourteen days and nights leading up to Fat Tuesday. They usually have 20-30 floats with riders. But not everyone in parades ride on floats. In fact there are horseback riders, clowns, marching bands, marching clubs and dance teams.

And the crowds are as much a part of the parade! To get the people on the floats to give the throws to you, you have to yell "Throw me something mister!!!" at the top of your lungs while waving your hands in the air. All of these things just add to the excitement of the parade and Mardi Gras.

All of the names of the parades come from Greek mythology and each year the parade floats follow a different theme. Some of the big famous parades are Rex, Endymion, Bacchus, and Muses. Some of the smaller parades are Thoth, Tucks and the truck parades. And the different parades have their own themed throws. Some include colored glass/plastic beads, doubloons, stuffed animals both big and small, light up beads and toys, moon pies of all flavors, and spears.

Floats are constructed using an eighteen wheeler trailer base. They can range from large, extravagant lit up doubleckers to smaller truck floats found in the neighborhood parades. Parades are a celebration of sight and sound like no other. A Tasty Side of Mardi Gras King Cake is a tasty treat that helps put the fat in Fat Tuesday. It is a sweet oval shaped cake made of pastry dough with cinnamon mixed in. It is drizzled with vanilla icing and sprinkled with the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. These cakes come with a variety of fillings such as strawberry, bavarian cream, and even cheese cake.

The name "king cake" is based in the Christian faith. It is said to honor the three kings that came to visit baby Jesus on the night of his birth. Hidden somewhere in each cake is a small plastic baby. It represents baby Jesus. Whoever gets the baby in their slice of King Cake has to buy, and throw the next King Cake party.

The reason this cake is shaped like an oval is because it symbolizes the unity of faith. The colors of the King Cake have special meaning too. Purple represents justice, green shows faith, and gold symbolizes power. King cake is rich with history, meaning, and flavor. Who officially started Mardi Gras? The Romans did! This holiday is based on an ancient Roman custom of merry making. Many years later the French and Spanish adapted these customs and made them part of their own Catholic faith celebrations.

Later in the 1700's French and Spanish immigrants came to America and settled where what today is known as New Orleans, Louisiana. They brought with them the traditions of Mardi Gras. Who are the important behind-the-scenes people who keep the parade wheels rolling? They are the tractor drivers, mounted police and street cleaners. Without them, all of the parades wouldn't run.

All of the people on the floats are carefree and having a good time, which is great but the tractor drivers have all of the responsibilities. They have to keep the parade flowing properly. For example if they go too fast they could hit the float or people in front of them. If they go too slow they would hold up the whole parade. They have to make sure that their passengers are safe and so are the parade goers. Tractor drivers and the police have to handle all of the mishaps such as broken down tractors and floats getting stuck on sharp turns.

The mounted police ride on horseback throughout the city. They control the crowds and make sure everyone stays safe. They also help when children get lost and wander from their parents in the crowd.

The street cleaners are at the end of each parade. They follow behind and sweep the streets clean, getting the city ready for the next parade to roll. Work Cited Page 1. World Book Encyclopedia, Mardi Gras, M, published 2010

2. Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery

3. www.Holidays.net/Mardi Gras/cake.htm

4. Mardi Gras: a City's Masked Parade published New York: Power Kids Press 1999 Lisa Gabbert

5. Carnival by: Alice K. Flanagan published by: Compass Point Books 2004

6. Mardi Gras Guide Magazine, 37th Annual Edition, published 2013 by Arthur Hardy Enterprises

7. Festivals of the World: Germany Gareth Stevens Publishing A World
Almanac Education Group Company 1997 redone in 2001

8. Catholicism: Why Do We Eat Pancakes on Fat Tuesday

9. 1 Dead in Attic, by Chris Rose, published New Orleans: Chris Rose Books 2005

10. My Own Knowledge, as a NOLA girl who has never missed a Mardi Gras in all my 11 years

11. My Parents, New Orleans natives Hot List Chart 1. Holidays.net/Mardi Gras/cake.htm
This website is a wonderful source for research, it contains easy to read articles and the whole website is easy to access.

2. Mardi Gras: A City's Masked Parade By: Lisa Gabbert
This book is easy to read and understand.

3. Festivals of the World: Germany Gareth Stevens Publishing a World Almanac Education Group Company 1997 redone in 2001
This book explains the bigger words in the book and even someone who is unfamiliar with the topic of Mardi Gras could easily understand this book.

4. Mardi Gras Guide Magazine
This is a great magazine to get information from about Mardi Gras because it is written by a New Orleans local and is published each year. It includes information on all the parades, history and traditions of Carnival. The History and Customs
of How Did Mardi Gras Come to America? Mardi Gras krewes or clubs play a very big part in the tradition of Carnival. These krewes are organizations that put on the individual parades and carnival balls during the Mardi Gras season. Each krewe consists of members who have to pay a fee to join and annual dues. These krewe membership fees can be thousands of dollars a year.

The term "krewe" is thought to have originated in the 19th century when one of the oldest carnival clubs named themselves "Ye Mystick Krewe of Comus". There are all-male, all-female, and male/female krewes.

Each krewe has elected officers. The captain (or president) is in charge of planning their parade. The captain rides on a special place of honor on a float in the front of their parade. Each krewe elects a king and queen for their parade. They wear beautiful handmade costumes and masks. Some kings and queens never take off their masks so no one knows their identity.

There are more people to krewes than just kings, queens, and captains. There are also princesses, maids, dukes, and riders. Some of the smaller krewes have less than 200 members, compared to the larger krewes which usually have more than 2,000 float riders. Mardi Gras: Behind the Scenes 1. Where does Mardi Gras come from?

2. Who started the traditions of Mardi Gras?

3. What are some of the traditions that you know of?

4. When was Mardi Gras started?

5. What does the baby in the king cake represent?

6. What are krewes?

7. What is the day called when Mardi Gras takes place?

8. What do Germans call the day when Mardi Gras takes place?

9. What states legally celebrate Mardi Gras

10. What is the king of Mardi Gras's name?
SURVEY RESULTS TABLE OF CONTENTS SLIDE 3 "What Is Mardi Gras?"

SLIDE 5 How Did Mardi Gras Come to America?

SLIDE 8 Fat Tuesday

SLIDE 12 A Tasty Side of Mardi Gras

SLIDE 16 Carnival Krewes

SLIDE 20 Carnival Balls

SLIDE 23 Parades

SLIDE 28 Mardi Gras: Behind the Scenes

SLIDE 32 Rex: King of Carnival

SLIDE 35 Mardi Gras Survey

SLIDE 38 Mardi Gras Word Search and Crossword Puzzle

SLIDE 40 Mardi Gras Advertisement

SLIDE 42 Works Cited

SLIDE 43 Hot List Chart What Is Mardi Gras?
Buy one bag of these delicious chips
and get five bags free! The best chip in the world according to your mama Zapp's Potato Chips Dance Groups Marching Clubs Marching Bands Floats & Riders Krewe Members Krewe Throws One of Largest Krewes Tractor Drivers King Rex on Mardi Gras Day King Rex Arrives on the River Mounted Police Street Cleaners The first Mardi Gras parade was held in New Orleans
on February 24, 1857 by the Krewe of Comus. Rex Parade - Boeuf Gras Float Zulu Parade -
1st Parade to Roll on Fat Tuesday Truck Parades on Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Word Search Mardi Gras Cross Word Puzzle F A T T U E S D A Y T H R O W S F
L
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W
E "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!" "Let the Good Times Roll!" R
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