As you prepare your Mardi Gras invitations, take a minute to read into the history of the Mardis Gras celebration and learn a little Mardi Gras trivia and history. The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to Medieval Europe, though we have no written record of how that really transformed into the current Mardi Gras of today. But the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today, with Kings, Mardi Gras colors, and brass bands are traced to New Orleans. Check out the rest of the story and discover some cool Mardi Gras trivia along the way!
Mardi Gras Trivia & History
- Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and of course is celebrated on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The date can fall between February 3 and March 9 depending on the Lunar calendar. Mardi Gras is always 47 days before Easter Sunday.
- Mardi Gras on the Christian calendar, is the twelfth day after Christmas is known as “Epiphany”, “Twelfth Night”, or “Kings Day.” It is the day the gift-bearing Magi visited the baby Jesus, and is celebrated with its own unique rituals. It was to be a celebration to indulge in fatty foods before the fasting started for Lenten that started on Ash Wednesday.
- Mardis Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since the early 1700’s when the French settlers arrived.
- Throughout the years, krewes (organizations) were established that host parades and balls and keep the indulgent party rituals alive in spite of many practices being illegal.
- Born out of a visit from Russian grand duke Alexis Romanoff, the official colors for Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. These colors were chosen in 1872 by the King of Carnival, Rex to honor the grand duke Romanoff’s house colors. The colors represent the following: purple represents justice, green stands for faith and gold stands for power.
- The earliest reference to Mardi Gras “Carnival” appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association is the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
- By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback to celebrate Mardi Gras. Newspapers began to announce Mardi Gras events in advance.
- In 1873, the first floats were constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France. In 1875, Governor Warmoth of Louisiana signs the “Mardi Gras Act” making it a legal holiday in Louisiana, which is still is.
- Most Mardi Gras Krewes today developed from private social clubs that have restrictive membership policies. Since all of these parade organizations are completely funded by its members, it’s often referred to as the “Greatest Free Show on Earth!”
We hope you enjoyed our selection of Mardi Gras trivia and history. Happy celebrating!