Mardi Gras celebrations in Louisiana can be dated all the way back to 1699 and early French settlers but Mardi Gras with its parades and modern glories as we now know them began in 1857. The Mystick Krewe of Comus held the first parade, and it is now the oldest continuously active Mardi Gras organization. Krewes, which are organizations that put on a parade or ball for the Carnival season, can be found all over the world but they play an especially significant role in New Orleans. Not only are the Krewes responsible for the dozens of parades around the city, they literally have molded Mardi Gras into what it is. For example, the Krewe of Rex’s parade theme “Symbolism of Colors” cemented purple, gold and green as the colors of the holiday and introduced doubloon coins as trinkets. While, the Krewe of Bacchus is responsible for the largest party the Sunday before Mardi Gras and is famous for its celebrity monarch’s, with this year’s being Will Ferrell. The Krewes also toss throws into the crowds, the most common of which are strings of plastic colorful beads, igniting some of more infamous behavior of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Another traditional part of Mardi Gras season are King Cakes. These cakes are associated with the festival of Epiphany but can be found throughout Carnival in New Orleans. The cake contains a small trinket, most commonly a small baby representing Baby Jesus. The person who gets the pieces of cake with the trinket is often said to have to buy the next King cake or throw the next King cake party. Some Krewes even use this to choose the queen of their annual balls.
Mardi Gras is the only day of the year you can wear a mask and hide your identity in New Orleans, so take advantage, rent with Sixt and be a new you for the day!