Mardi Gras is the world’s largest free party, attracting droves of tourists to the Big Easy each year. Despite how well-known Mardi Gras is, there are a lot of misconceptions about the festivities and traditions surrounding this annual celebration.
There is a lot more to the what, when, where, and why of Mardi Gras than most might realize. Here are 10 things you might not know about Mardi Gras.
1) Mardi Gras Is Just One Day – You’re Really Enjoying The Carnival Season
Chances are, when you say you’re heading to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, what you really mean is that you’re going to check out a parade or two on a weekend leading up to Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is actually a single day – the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which is, of course, the beginning of Lent. Really, what better way to spend the final day before you have to give up something fun for a whole 40 days? Mardi Gras is a part of Carnival season, which kicks off on Feast of Epiphany. Carnival is made up of a whole lot of balls and parades, which are put on by various krewes (pronounced “crews”).
2) Even Dogs Can Party During Mardi Gras
Wish your four-legged friend could have some fun at the parades, too? Thanks to the Krewe of Barkus, dogs get to enjoy their very own Mardi Gras parade, complete with pup-friendly floats.
3) Mardi Gras Isn’t Just For Adults
While there is no shortage of adult-only parties to be found, Mardi Gras is meant to be fun for the whole family. Meet up with fellow families at any one of the popular family parade-watching spots in New Orleans, such as St. Charles and Napoleon, known for taking extra time to pass by in order to give you maximum opportunity to score parade goodies. St. Charles at 3rd or 4th are also good spots, located conveniently close to Garden District accommodations.
4) Scoring The Most Goodies Takes A Little Strategy
There is no shortage of beads to be scored along a parade route, but if you want to make sure you get your hands on as many as possible, you need to be in the right spot. While you can absolutely get beads tossed your way by calling out to the folks on the floats, the best way to score a ton of beads is to position yourself at the end of the parade route. By the time the floats reach you, their main concern is emptying their bags before they hop off the float.
5) Not Everyone Is Throwing Beads – You Could Be In For A Surprise!
Krewes are known for having their own unique themes, and some take the “unique” part a little more seriously than others. New Orleans’ Krewe of Tucks and their legendary giant toilet bowl float is a real crowd-pleaser, known for throwing monogrammed toilet paper, sunglasses shaped like toilets, mini-plungers, and other toilet-themed goodies to those lining the parade route. Shreveport has the Krewe of Highland, known for tossing hot dogs and Spam to the crowds.
6) Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better When It Comes To Parades
Thoth – which sort of rhymes with “close” – isn’t necessarily what you’d call the main event, but the crowds that come out to attended always seem to be having a ton of fun. That may have something to do with the fact that Thoth is known for throwing out more beads than the average Mardi Gras parade. It could also be because of how unique their beads are – covered in hieroglyphics to represent their Egyptian roots.
7) The Roots Of The Bead Throws
Way back in the early days of Mardi Gras, krewes were known to throw anything and everything at the crowds, up to and including food and dirt. This was the norm until the 1880s when according to legend, a man dressed like Santa Claus gained a substantial level of fame for throwing beads. The beads were so popular that everyone copied Santa and started throwing them as well. These days, plastic strands are bought in bulk by krewes each year, although locals still love to see tiny strands of glass beads. Glass beads are rare, having mostly been phased out since the 1970s.
8) You Should Apologize To Your Suitcase In Advance
If you’re traveling to Mardi Gras festivities, you’re going to want to pack light if you expect to get your bags closed when you’re ready to head home. It’s estimated that more than 25 million pounds of beads are thrown from Mardi Gras floats each year. More than half of that ends up left in the streets of New Orleans. Locals gather these beads up and visit ARC of New Orleans to recycle beads for the following year’s festivities.
9) Mardi Gras Is A Legal Holiday
Given the reputation Mardi Gras has when it comes to excitement and excess, it comes as a surprise to a lot of non-Louisianans that it’s actually a state holiday. Governor Warmoth signed the Mardi Gras Act in 1875, and it’s been a legal holiday ever since.
10) New Orleans Isn’t The Only Place To Go For Mardi Gras Celebrations
Most people think of New Orleans when they think of Mardi Gras, but it’s far from the only place to find parades and balls during Carnival season. The Cajun Mardi Gras in Lafayette is hugely popular, as is the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Ball. Family-friendly celebrations can be found in Alexandria and Lake Charles. Mardi Gras celebrations can even be found in parts of Europe and Brazil. In the “off-season,” you can visit the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles or Mardi Gras World in New Orleans to see floats, costumes, and other Mardi Gras accouterments.
What’s the best way to make sure you enjoy Mardi Gras? Knowing your business is safe and secure while you’re away from the office. Give BIOS Technologies a call at (504) 849-0570 to learn how we can help make that happen.