Mardi Gras Louisiana Style
Mardi Gras is part of the fabric of USA life. Having been brought to the Deep South by the early French settlers, it has become a hybrid of Catholic tradition and partying which draws thousands of tourists each year. The date that it starts fluctuates, but usually commences on Ash Wednesday.
The first Mardi Gras dates back to 1699 in Louisiana on the banks of the Mississippi River and now every year, revellers come dressed in beads for a day of fun and frolics on the streets. Louisiana is a notoriously a melting pot of cultures and traditions, so it is interesting to note that no two areas celebrate the festival in the same way. Everything has a unique flavour.
The modern day carnival has a legacy which dates back to the Rex Organisation in 1872. Rex is colloquially known as King of the Carnival and it was him that chose the official colours which are still worn with pride today: purple, green and gold. Although it is undeniable that this colour combination goes well together, Rex was not merely interested in aesthetics. He gave each colour its own meaning knowing that symbolism is very powerful in the South. The purple stands for justice, green is indicative of faith, and gold represents power.
But one of the most interesting aspects of the event is the parade which happens before Fat Tuesday, and culminates in the parade of 60 boats which travel the packed streets across from Slidell to Madisonville. Some of the best views can be found around Lake Charles and Houma, which are famous for the procession of brightly lit boats. Lafayette's take on Mardi Gras differs somewhat, and they are more family-oriented with lots of activities for children and youths.
The festival has a little bit of everything to titillate the senses, with dancers, food stalls, fancy dress, cocktails, awesome parades, and all you have to do is find a good spot and enjoy the procession. It is evident that the most fantastic celebrations happen on the streets of New Orleans, but all the surrounding neighbourhoods join in which gives it a fully inclusive atmosphere.