Mardi Gras is a Louisiana tradition and each region of Louisiana celebrates Mardi Gras a little differently. Here is a very, very brief history of Mardi Gras and then a list of Mardi Gras terms.
Click here to view a 2013 Mardi Gras Calendar (courtesy of our friends at Louisiana Life).
Mardi Gras dates back over several thousand years to the pagan celebration of spring. More recently, the religious leaders of Rome decided that with excess comes sacrifice, so Carnival season became a prelude to the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Mardi Gras is the culmination of feasting, excess drinking and revelry before Lent.
- Mardi Gras: Fat Tuesday. The final day of the Mardi Gras season.
- Lundi Gras: Fat Monday. This is the arrival of Rex, the King of Carnival who arrives by steamboat.
- Carnival: The festive season right before Lent (also known as Mardi Gras).
- Rex: The King of Carnival. They are also a Krewe that parades Mardi Gras day.
- Krewe: A Mardi Gras organization. Some parade, some don’t.
- Zulu: The first Krewe to parade on Mardi Gras day and they have the most coveted throw, the Zulu Coconut
- Zulu Coconut: This is handed out from their floats to a very few lucky parade watchers.
- Mardi Gras Indians: Groups of black men in New Orleans who portray American Indians and are dressed in elaborate handmade feathered and beaded costumes.
- Throws: Inexpensive trinkets thrown from the floats by masked krewe members such as beads, doubloons, cups etc. The phrase you will hear most is “Throw me something mister”.
- Float: The elaborately decorated vehicle that the krewe members stand on as they parade through the streets. Usually pulled by a tractor.
- Doubloons: An aluminum coin which comes in different colors. One side has the krewe’s logo and the other side has the krewe’s parade theme.
- King Cake: A cinnamon braided Danish pastry that has icing in the three Mardi Gras colors, purple, green and gold. Somewhere in the king cake is a tiny plastic baby. Whoever finds the baby buys the next king cake. Many bakeries also fill their king cakes with fruit or cream cheese.
- Mardi Gras colors: Purple-Justice; Green-Faith; Gold-Power.
- Twelfth Night: January 6 is Twelfth Night and that’s the first day king cakes are supposed to be on sale.
- Tableau Ball: A masked ball with scenes representing a specific theme are acted out for krewe members and their guests.
- Favor: A gift given out to friends who attend a Tableau Ball.
- Flambeaux: A metal torch that lights the way for Carnival parades.
- Krewe Captain: The leader of a Krewe
- Den: Warehouse where Mardi Gras floats are built and stored.
- Court: The royalty of a Mardi Gras Krewe which include the King, Queen, Maids and Dukes.
- Courir: You hear this in Cajun Country and it refers to the Mardi Gras run (on horseback).