Everything You Need to Know About Mardi Gras, A-Z

  • February 23, 2017
  • Jenna Maxwell

Ash Wednesday - This coming Wednesday March 1st is Ash Wednesday. It marks the first day of Lent, the six-week period of prayer and fasting that immediately follows the feasting and celebrating of Mardi Gras.

Beads-Beads are one of the most coveted "throws" that float riders toss to spectators during Mardi Gras parades. These inexpensive plastic strings of beads have been a favorite souvenir of Mardi Gras since the late nineteenth century when Krewe members first tossed them to very enthusiastic spectators.

Costumes-Just like Halloween, Mardi Gras celebrations often focus on dressing up in elaborate or even crazy costumes. Anything goes for Mardi Gras, but traditionally costumes are comprised of the designated Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. A broad range of accessories will enhance Mardi Gras costumes including wigs, gloves, and hats. The most well known Mardi Gras accessory to wear, is, of course, a mask.

Doubloons-Another favorite Mardi Gras souvenir or "throw" is a commemorative doubloon. Mardi Gras souvenir doubloons look like coins but are crafted from colored aluminum, and then stamped with various Krewe's insignia and the year of the celebration. Seasoned Mardi Gras revelers will bring a bag to collect and carry their doubloons along with other Mardi Gras souvenirs.

Extravaganza-Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday truly is nothing short of a full-blown extravaganza. With a steady stream of food, drink, costume parties, parades and masquerade balls, this grand celebration is an event for the ages.

Fat Tuesday-Fat Tuesday gets its name from being a day of extreme eating, drinking and partying that happens just before Lent. Ash Wednesday begins this six-week period of fasting and self-denial.

Glitz-Nothing about Mardi Gras is dull or blasé--in fact, if ever there were a time to put on the glitz, this would be the day!

Hangover-Mardi Gras is well known to be a time for eating and drinking, often in excess. For some, this may mean an inevitable hangover.

Imaginative-Mardi Gras and imagination go hand in hand. There are many opportunities to use your creativity while celebrating this exciting event. Now is the time to put together an exciting Mardi Gras costume look that expresses your unique personality.

Jazz-The celebrations of Mardi Gras have adopted much of the finer parts of New Orleans culture which naturally includes The Big Easy's best jazz music.

King Cake-The King Cake is one of the most traditional party foods served during Mardi Gras celebrations. The King Cake gets its name from the three kings or wise men that visited the baby Jesus after his birth. Made of pastry, the King Cake is baked into a circular shape and is then decorated with sprinkles of green, purple and gold sugar. Baked inside the King Cake is a small plastic baby. Tradition states that whoever gets the piece of cake that holds the baby must hold the following year's party.

Lent-Lent is the six-week period of prayer and fasting that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.

Masks-The wearing of masks is a longstanding tradition of Mardi Gras. The masking tradition started many years ago as a way to conceal one's true identity during the extreme feasting, revelry and sometimes, debauchery that occurred during the celebration of Mardi Gras. Wearing a mask allowed for an easier abandonment of societal restrictions as well as the mixing of social classes without any repercussions.

New Orleans-New Orleans is the home of the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.

Outrageous-When it comes to Mardi Gras festivities, one word comes to mind. Outrageous! From costumes and favors to food and parties, Mardi Gras is well known for being the time to eat, drink and be merry.

Parades-During the period leading up to Mardi Gras you can expect to see many fabulous parades. The amazing spectacles begin in the month of January and continue all the way through Fat Tuesday. All float riders are masked, and most will be tossing throws and trinkets to parade onlookers.

Queen-At each year's Mardi Gras celebration a King and Queen are named to rule over all of the carnival festivities.

Rex-Rex is the legendary King of Carnival or Mardi Gras. The Rex Organization is one of the longest functioning Krewe's of Mardi Gras and has been hosting the celebration since 1872. Shrove Tuesday-Shrove Tuesday is another name for Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and has long been a traditional day for feasting and celebrating.

Trinkets-What would Mardi Gras be without a full assortment of trinkets and souvenirs? Popular Mardi Gras trinkets include plastic beads, doubloons, cups and stuffed animals.

Ultimate Party-What more do we need to say about Mardi Gras? The term "ultimate party" pretty much sums up the experience to a tee.

Voodoo-A longstanding part of New Orleans history, the Voodoo religion came to New Orleans with slaves who had practiced the religion in their homeland of Africa. Some areas of the Voodoo religion have been passed on for generations in this southern region of the country, including various religious ceremonies and of course, Voodoo themed costumes.

Waving-If you are going to watch a Mardi Gras parade, get ready to do a lot of waving. Waving to the float riders to capture their attention will likely get more parade throws tossed in your direction!

Xylophone-The unique xylophone is just one of many great instruments used to play the festive and sometimes raucous music that made Mardi Gras famous.

Zest-If you have a zest for adventure. Mardi Gras celebrating is the holiday for you! Even if you can't make the trip to New Orleans, consider holding a Mardi Gras party in your own neck of the woods!

Happy Mardi Gras from your friends at Halloween Express!