Mardi Gras: The Mystery Behind the Mask

  • February 01, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Humankind has worn masks for well over nine thousand years.  Whether it was for protection, ritual, celebration, or just for use in the performing arts, the mask is both part of ancient culture as well as it being a practical accessory.  Throughout history, masks have been created in a vast array of styles for a wide variety of reasons.   Mardi Gras and mask wearing are hopelessly entwined, as masks are an integral part of the Mardi Gras tradition, both historically as well as into the modern day.  

Why Wear a Mask?  No one is sure when Mardi Gras revelers began to wear masks or exactly why, although some theories have surfaced that may explain this time-honored tradition.  As far back as the 13th century, laws and ordinances were on the books that strictly prohibited certain behaviors when done while wearing a mask.  For example, gambling or tossing garbage were considered particularly egregious to do while masked, and thus became illegal.  It’s safe to say that by this period in history, some folks had figured out that hiding behind a mask made it that much easier to be a bit naughty and to conceal one’s identity at the same time. 

Mardi Gras is a time of raucous gaiety because it celebrates the last opportunity to eat, drink and be merry before the onset of Lent.  It seems likely that many folks would embrace the idea of wearing a mask during the celebrating, primarily to conceal their identity while engaging in behavior that may not have been a part of their ordinary, everyday life.  Mask wearing may have even been an act of defiant rebellion--as if to say, “I am going to do whatever I want, and no will ever know!”  Masks may have protected the identity of Mardi Gras partiers, but in the process, the mask also became an integral part of Mardi Gras history and tradition. 

Mardi Gras masks come in many different styles, shapes, and sizes, from those that cover only a small portion of the face, to those that cover the entire face.  Some Mardi Gras masks are very elaborate, artistic and ornately decorated.  Others are very simple and functional.  Some types of Mardi Gras masks such as Venetian or masquerade styles are traditional pieces, with roots that go back for centuries. 

No matter what your Mardi Gras celebration plans include, undoubtedly a mask of some sort is going to be an integral part of your Mardi Gras look.  Halloween Express has a huge collection of masks that will fit the bill perfectly for all your Mardi Gras celebrating.  Venetian masks, masquerade masks, stick masks, half masks, ribbon masks, feather masks, fantasy masks, animal masks, lace masks--and so much more! For an unforgettable undercover look that embraces all that Mardi Gras tradition offers, our mask selection has got you covered! 

Happy Mardi Gras from your friends at Halloween Express! 

Mardi Gras: The Mystery Behind the Mask

Mardi Gras Mania

  • January 26, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

When you think of Mardi Gras, you likely think of that rather massive, crazy party down in New Orleans.  Mardi Gras, or Carnival as it is known in much of the world, does have a reputation for being a rather raucous celebration. But what exactly is Mardi Gras?  What is up with all the costumes, beads and masks? There’s a lot of tradition and fun that surrounds this unique celebration, and you don’t have to live in New Orleans to get excited about it.

What is Mardi Gras?  Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is an ancient holiday celebrated throughout the world. Some of the bigger Mardi Gras festivities occur in Brazil, Venice and of course, in New Orleans.  Mardi Gras has its origins in the ancient pagan festivals that celebrated fertility and springtime.  When Christianity came to Ancient Rome, the church wisely did not take away these beloved traditional celebrations, but instead incorporated them into their religion, making these events into newly sanctioned religious observances.  Mardi Gras became the last party or time of sanctioned feasting that occurred just before Ash Wednesday and Lent, the forty-day period of fasting that occurs prior to Easter.  Fat Tuesday became the final hurrah--revelers would use this event to gorge on meat, eggs, milk and cheese because none of these foods were allowed during the Lenten period.

Mardi Gras Traditions.  In addition to lots of eating and drinking during the revelry, Mardi Gras is also a time for many time-honored traditions and rituals.  Many parades will happen during Mardi Gras celebrating, including elaborate floats, dancers and marching bands as participants.  Float riders will toss beads, trinkets, coins and small toys out to onlookers--this is all considered to be part of the Mardi Gras tradition and fun. 

Modern Mardi Gras. Although Mardi Gras historically has its roots in religious observance, modern day merrymakers just love the fun and festivities that surround what has arguably become the world’s biggest party.  Mardi Gras today is enjoyed by the masses, both the secular and the devout. 

What’s Up With the Masks?  Masks have been a huge part of Mardi Gras tradition for hundreds of years.  Historically, masks have often been a part of many celebrations and rituals.  Masks became famous during the earliest Mardi Gras tradition because not only did they add a distinct air of mystery and intrigue to the wearer, but they also allowed a person to celebrate incognito.  Mardi Gras became a time in which all classes of society could commingle without judgment.  A mask may have also allowed its wearer to party like a rock star--without having to show one’s face or feel any guilt.

Halloween Express has a vast selection of festive and fun Mardi Gras costumes, accessories, and party supplies.  Check them out before heading to your next Fat Tuesday celebration!  Let the good times roll! 


Remembering Martin Luther King: How His Legacy Still Lives

  • January 18, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Martin Luther King Day is so much more than just the celebration and remembrance of a great leader.  As we mark the date of Dr. King’s birthday and reflect on his great legacy, take a moment to reflect on some of the finer points of Martin Luther King’s life that still very much apply to us today.

Dream BIG!  Martin Luther King is famous for uttering the words, “I have a dream.” He had an idea in his head that inspired and burned within him and caused him to go into action.  Although his life ended prematurely, Martin Luther King’s short life illustrates how important it is to pursue one’s dreams.  In Dr. King's case, his vision likely changed the course of human events forever, from that point on.

Strive for Peaceful Resolution.   Martin Luther King, Jr. set a shining example of what it’s like to rise above the fray and create change through non-violent and peaceful resolution strategies.  There is no doubt that he had to be upset and even desperate many times because of the many injustices that were a part of day-to-day life.   Martin Luther King resolved to make changes in the world but to do so in a way that promoted both civility and respect.

Do the Right Thing.  Sometimes change is difficult and doing the right thing is not easily accomplished.  Martin Luther King bravely fought for what he believed was right and forged ahead without fear.  For most of us, doing the right thing is done on a far less visible stage.  By being kind to others, offering help to those in need or just listening to someone that needs a friend--theses small acts can make a big difference in your sphere of existence and even on a grander scale.

Give Back.   Martin Luther King’s life taught us that no matter how rough you think you have it, there are still many opportunities to give back to your community.  Giving back doesn’t necessarily equate to donating money. In fact, sometimes the best way to better the lives of those around you is by giving of yourself.  Donating time and energy to your community is one way to channel some of Martin Luther King’s inspiration. 

Treat Others as You Want to Be Treated.  If you expect others to behave respectfully and with kindness, try always to emulate those qualities yourself.  It’s unrealistic to expect other folks to act in a way that you are unwilling to channel yourself.  Be the change you want to see in humanity and see how it makes a difference in your own life!

Happy Martin Luther King Day from your friends at Halloween Express!

Why You Really Should Love January!

  • January 13, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

The first couple of weeks after the holiday season ends can be a little rough.  The weather outside is frightful.  Instead of a mailbox full of holiday cards and packages, the mail carrier is bringing us bills, bills, and more bills.  Blue Monday, the scientifically theorized “most depressing day “ of the year is coming up on January the 18th.
Is a gloomy January mood a foregone conclusion?  Are we destined to just miserably white-knuckle our way through winter?  No way! By no means does January have to be the calendar’s annual buzz kill.  January is jam-packed with simple pleasures, hidden treasures and silver linings.  What’s great about January?  Here are a few ideas that are sure to lift your mood.

  • January Holidays.  After your New Year’s hangover has worn off, you may be thinking that all the fun is over.  January has quite a few other holidays and celebrations that will bring with them great reasons to celebrate.
  • January 14-Dress up Your Pet Day.  Many pets love costumes, especially if it means getting more treats.  You know you’ve thought of dressing up your dog like Yoda, anyway--now you have the perfect excuse!
  • January 18-Martin Luther King Day.  Many schools and businesses will be closed on this day giving many folks another three-day weekend!
  • January 18-Winnie the Pooh Day!
  • January 25-Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. You know all that bubble wrap left over from your Christmas packages?  Today is the day to start popping!
  • January 26-Spouse’s Day.  The perfect day to make sure your spouse feels extra loved and appreciated!
  • January 28-Fun at Work Day.  Make sure your boss hears about this one.

 

Cold Weather Perks.  It’s true that cold weather can be freezing and utterly miserable, but let’s face it--there are a few perks that come along with the frigid winter weather.

  • Warm and Cuddly Clothing.  Sweaters. Beanies.  Scarves. Boots.  Winter clothing can be super fun to wear, plus it can be so comforting to curl up in all that thick, soft apparel.
  • Hot Beverages.  There is nothing more soothing than a warm cup of coffee or cocoa on a cold winter’s day.  Enjoying your favorite hot beverage has to be one of the best parts of cold weather!
  • Limited Yard Work.  During the winter months, many of us will get a break from all that lawn mowing, gardening, weeding, and pruning.  What will you do with all that extra time?
  • Cold Weather Sports.  Bundle up and get outside!  From winter nature walks, to snow sports and ice-skating, there is plenty to do outside to be active and have fun in the snow.
  • No Dealing with BUGS!  Many bug populations go dormant during the winter. 

 

Limited Daylight:  The Bright Side!

Shorter days mean that by you will be spending more time indoors by default.  Take advantage of the extra down time to catch up on your reading. Curl up with that good book you’ve been wanting to read or find a new TV series to stream and binge watch.   Do you need some suggestions?  May we suggest some superhero-inspired programming?  Check out “Supergirl”, (CBS) “Gotham”, (Fox) “The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, (ABC) “Agent Carter”, (ABC) and “The Flash” (The CW).  Naturally, you won’t want to miss out on a lot of great sports television, too--basketball season is now in full swing, not to mention the end of football season that brings with it both the NFL playoff games and the much-anticipated Super Bowl! 

Good Eats and Comfort Food.

There are many foods just made for January.  Think about steamy soups and hearty stews simmering in the slow cooker.  Creamy homemade macaroni and cheese.  Home baked bread.  Cinnamon anything.  Now is the time to fill your kitchen with mouthwatering aromas and delicious foods that are sure to snap you out of your winter doldrums in a hurry.

Warming Up is Fun! 

There is nothing like warming up in front of a crackling fireplace in the dead of winter.  Cuddling up under a blanket with a loved one, snuggling your pet or a curling up with a good book are all fantastic ways to take the chill off a long winter’s night!

Sadly, surveys do suggest that the population as a whole views January as their least favorite month of the year.  Don’t let a bad case of the wintertime blues spoil the many bright spots that are within the month that begins your brand new year.  2016 is a fresh start--learn to embrace all that it has to offer to make this year your best one yet! 

Why You Really Should Love January!

Farewell 2015: A Great Year in Costumes

  • January 04, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

As we welcome in the year 2016, it’s also a great time to look back with fondness at some of the most favorite personas that found their way to the top of the charts during the year 2015!  These legendary characters will go not only down in history, but will prove to be some of the most memorable personalities that 2015 had to offer!  

Batman:  Always a costume character favorite, Batman costumes got a surge in popularity amongst the masses this year, likely because of the much anticipated Batman-featured movie releases coming up in 2016.  We can’t wait for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as well as the much anticipated “Suicide Squad.”

Spiderman:  Spiderman has once again stealthily crept his way to the top of the pack when it comes to ultimate superhero popularity.  Always considered costume classics, superheroes were a proven to be a clear favorite choice during the year 2015, Spiderman being numero uno.  The female persuasion was not to be left out when it came to superhero love.  In 2015, Wonder Woman costume looks were all the rage.

Donald Trump:  Political characters were the choice of nearly 800,000 costume wearers in the year 2015.  Who could be a better character to dress up as than the charismatic and flamboyant Donald Trump!  When it comes to costume choices, “The Donald” apparently was hired, not fired.

Suicide Squad:  The upcoming 2016 release of “The Suicide Squad” has created a lot of hoopla surrounding the cast of notorious villains that star in the film.   Characters such as “Harley Quinn” and “The Joker” were enormously popular costume looks in 2015 and this spectacularly sinister trend is very likely to continue as we head into 2016.

Minnie & Mickey Mouse:  Who doesn’t love Minnie and Mickey Mouse?  Exactly.  Eighty-seven years old and still going strong, Minnie and Mickey Mouse have not only found eternal love with each other, but the world has also forever fallen in love with these two adorable Disney rodents! 

Witches:  Now what would Halloween be without a few witches flying around?  When it comes to classic Halloween characters, the witch is clearly here to stay.  Whether you chose a traditional witch, a sexy witch, a cute witch or even a hideous witch--you were in bewitching company.

Pirates:  Yarr! Pirate costumes continue to be a popular choice in 2015.  Blimey! Pirate costume looks remained favorite classic dress up looks amongst thee masses and with good reason. Not only do pirates now have their celebratory holiday, but a pirate lingo translator also has been available for years.  Arrr! Is this good pirate fun?  Aye Matey! 

Frozen:   True to its name, Disney’s “Frozen” appears to be frozen solid in popularity and it just isn’t likely going away.  Kids just love this movie and the characters that go with it. 

Minions:  Minion Dominion continues!  Here a minion, there a minion, everywhere a minion--in 2015, minions of all shapes and sizes gallivanted around virtually everywhere.  In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were sitting with one now. 

Star Wars:  Nearly 3 million costume wearers chose to dress up as a Star Wars character in the year 2015.  “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is breaking ticket sales records at light speed while also creating a galactic frenzy when it came to dressing up as any of the cast members of Star Wars for children as well as adults and pets. 

Happy New Year!  As great as 2015 was, 2016 promises to be another spectacular year in costumes!  You can always count on your friends at Halloween Express to stock the best selection of costumes for all of 2016’s exciting occasions!