Mardi Gras

A last hurrah before Lent

What is Mardi Gras?

- Dates back thousands of years to pagan rituals for spring and fertility

- Adapted into a Christian holiday for celebrating one last time before the forty days of Lent

- Traditionally it represented the feasting on meat eggs milk and cheese left in homes before religious fasting began

- Also known as Carnival, Fat Tuesday, and Shrove Tuesday

- Celebrated in New Orleans with parades, balls, and other parties

- Many historians believe that the first Mardi Gras was celebrated March 3rd 1699


- Develop from private social clubs with restrictive membership

- Organize the parades and other festivities

- Generally named after Greco-Roman mythological figures

- Ranking structure is a parody of royalty (King, Queen, Duke, Knight, Captain)

- African American neighborhoods developed their own krewes and celebrations

- Named after imaginary Indian tribes according to the streets of their ward or gang, and to show respect for the Indians who helped African Americans escape from slavery

- A way to show off arts and craftsmanship

- Ranks: Big Chief, Flag Boy, and Spy Boy

- Currently over 50 krewes total


- Krewes organize their parades and routes

- The older krewes have the same route every year

- Rex one of the oldest Mardi Gras Krewes, has been around since 1872. This Krewes established the traditional Mardi Gras colors of Green, Purple and Gold

- "Throws" are tossed off of floats; these include beads, toys, and other items

- The Rex and Zulu parades are the two main Mardi Gras parades

- Krewes host balls beginning in January where the King, Queen, and other roles are presented

- Celebrations include wearing masks, costumes during parades and festivals, sports competition, dancing, musical presentations, and tribe battles between "Indain" troops that meet during the festivities

Traditional Music

Traditional Mardi Gras "Indian"Music is significant to each Tribe when the groups are parading, when tribes meet for a symbolic fight the drum beat will dignify when the tribes can intertwine.

That song was an example of a Cajun or Creole song that would play in preparation of the Mardi Gras celebration, it is also called the Main Stay. It was considered one of the most important songs in the celebration and has been an important part of the music scene for hundreds of years.

Songs played at the various balls that gone on during Mardi Gras are largely instrumental and stay somewhat traditional. Played at the Debutante Balls that showcase the King, Queens and other important figures.