The History of Old Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras and it's Sensual Beginning

The history of Mardi Gras began in ancient Rome with the Lupercian festival. which took place every February. The festival was a time of celebration and a time to mingle and meet new people. The Lupercian festival was a time of sensual pleasure. It was the most popular of all festivals in ancient Rome. A circus like sensual festival was held back then during ancient Rome.

The Culture of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

When Rome embraced Christianity the pagan holiday was toned down a bit, and the church decided it was better to embrace some pagan rituals then abolish them. The festival of Mardi Gras was held which proceeded the penance of lent. Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with a French Explorer, named Iberville. Paris had celebrated Mardi Gras since the middle ages, when it was known as a major holiday. Iberville launched and expedition into the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River about 60 miles South where New Orleans is today. He set up camp in 1699 where he later named the spot Point du Mardi Gras.

Late 18th Century

While under French rule in the 1700's , pre-lenten Masked Balls Carnivals were popular in New Orleans. When New Orleans came under Spanish rule the custom was banned. In 1803 New Orleans cam under United States rule and Mardi Gras was revived. In 1823 the Creole convinced the Governor of New Orleans to allow masked balls again, better known as Mardi Gras. In 1827 Mardi Gras were once again allowed.

The 19th Century

In the 19th Century Mardi Gras was celebrated on foot and in horse drawn carriages, and on horseback, while everyone always wore masks. In 1837 was the First Mardi Gras parade, on record as of to date. In the 1840's and 1850's Mardi Gras gained bad press, because of maskers and their violent behavior. Even there standard behavior was introverted into sex with strangers and even unclothing themselves in public. Due to the behavior Mardi Gras was almost cancelled.

In 1857 the Comus Orginization was formed to protect Mardi Gras and its participants. This group saved Mardi Gras and ended the bad press and rumors of violent behavior. The group brought beauty and color to the streets of New Orleans and proclaimed Mardi Gras could be safe and festive to be enjoyed by all. Comus also brought the term Krewe to Mardi Gras and added floats and a parade through the crowded streets. Comus was named after a mythological creature.

In 1866 Comus returned after and interruption by the Civil War. In 1870 the 1st appearance was made by 12 Night Revelers into the Mardi Gras theme. IN 1871 a new custom came around where a young woman with a golden bean was hidden in a cake. She would be the 1st women of Mardi Gras. This launched the origin of the cake tradition.

Mardi Gras Cake

Mardi Gras Years

In 1872 the Grand Duke of Russia visited New Orleans , his name was Alex Romanoff. That year the King of the carnival made its debut in Mardi Gras. The Krewe of Rex introduced green, pupple and gold into Mardi Gras as it's official theme colors. Also the first organized daytime parade was introduced into Mardi Gras. The theme song was 'If Ever I Cease To Love'. One of the highest point of Rex was the King arriving by River Boat

In 1872 on New Years Eve the Knights of Mamus arrived onto the Mardi Gras theme. Also in 1872 the Krewe of Proteus joined in on Mardi Gras. The parade theme was deemed after Egyptian mythology. In 1896 Les Mysterieues appeared this was the first female group to join Mardi Gras. In 1918 Mardi Gras was cancelled during the 1st World War.In 1835 the Elks Krewe of Hermes was formed.

The 1900's

In 1934 the Krewe of Alla brought it to the West Bank. In 1937 the Krewe of Hermes appeared. In 1939 the Krewe of Babylon appeared with Mardi Gras. During the 1940's Mardi Gras was booming, although it was not celebrated during the time of war. Louis Armstrong was the King of the Parade and was celebrated on the front cover of Time Magazine.

In 1930 the Duke and Duchess of Windsor visit Mardi Gras. During the Comus Ball they bow to Rex and Comus to show they are honoring them. In 1931 the Korean War put a cold feel on the Mardi Gras scene. Mule drawn floats arrived in the 1950's in Mradi Gras. Zues was the 1st Krewe to parade in Metarie. It was in 1961 that Pete Fountain formed the Half-Fast Walking Club, it was a big hit with the crowd. The 1960's ended with the arrival of Bacchus. Bacchus brought large floats with celebrities riding on them. Bacchus was also responsible for replacing the Ball with the Mardi Gras supper. Tickets could be bought by visitors and locals alike.

The 1970's brought with it a ban that ended Mardi Gras in the French Quarter. This ended a 117year tradition with the Mardi Gras celebration. A police strike ended 13 parades in Orleans Parish.

In the 1980's over 27 new parades were formed during Mardi Gras. Over 600,000 people were attending the Jefferson Parish Parade on Fat Tuesday.

The 1980's were the best times for Mardi Gras. In 1987 Rex revived the Lundi Gras where the Rex King arrives by River Boat on the Mississippi River. This tradition had been celebrated from 1874 to 1917.

The Traditional Ball lost it's popularity only to 10 Krewes by the end of the decade. They continued to carry on the age old tradition of Mardi Gras.

However Mardi Gras is still celebrated today. Mardi Gras can become a little to intense in New orleans, know that before you decide to go and have a great Mardi Gras.

By Rhonda G. Wits 1/14/11

Map of New Orleans

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Comments 38 comments

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

As a La. native,I usually celebrate Mardi Gras locally as it gets a little to intense,for me,in New Orleans,thanks for sharing Rhonda Waits.;)


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks Mentalist acer for your Comment. I have been to Mardi Gras one time in New Orleans. Yes it does get more intense in New Orleans. Have a great Mardi Gras.


kannanwrites profile image

kannanwrites 5 years ago from Mumbai

Never heard of it, but learnt to a great extent about of it.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks kannanwrites for your comment. I am glad you learned a lot about it. It is widely celebrated festival. Thanks for dropping by.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Rhonda, Mardi Gras is wonderful fun. Everyone show go at least once in their life. Great history.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks KoffeeKlatch Gals for your comment. I agree we should go at least once in a lifetime. Thanks for dropping by.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Mardi Gras is truly rich with history. I know my daughter would be very excited to see the tiny baby in the cake. I'd love to give Mardi Gras a go, the food must be amazing, not to mention the music. :)Katie


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks Katie for your comment. Yes Mardi Gras is fun and the food is wonderful. The music is also exciting. Mardi Gras is a different festival that is for sure. Thanks for dropping by my friend.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

You have a great hub here. Very inspiring and informative. Actually I never knew about this before. Thanks for share with us. I love anything related with history, including this one. I learn much from you. Vote up. Have a great day!

Love and peace,


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks prasetio30 for you comment. I am glad you enjoyed it. I also love history. Thanks for voting me up. Have a great day.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for this most interesting hub about Mardi Gras. This never becomes part of South-African culture. The nearest SOME people get to this is when they attend private swinging parties. Rhonda, I enjoyed this well-written and well-researched hub about Mardi Gras and voted it UP in all ways. Dankie!


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks Martie for your delightful comment. Yes Mardi Gras is and can be very wild. I have only been once though many years back, before I was married and had children. The costumes were wild and the people wilder back then, Great food and music though. Thanks for your comment.


shygirl2 5 years ago

I've never been to one Rhonda, but I have heard things can get a bit crazy down there. For those who don't mind the crowds and celebration of parties...I bet it is a paradise of sorts for them. : ) Thanks for sharing it with us. Good to know for future reference. I'd probaby enjoy the music!


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks shygirl2 for your comment. You should go a tleast once in your lifetime. It does get pretty wild. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for an interesting hub. I’d love to experience the atmosphere of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, listen to the music and sample the food. We don’t have any celebration quite like it where I live.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks AliciaC for your comment. Yea it is really different and way intense, great food and music always. Thanks for leaving a comment.


Glemoh101 profile image

Glemoh101 5 years ago

thanks for this wonderful hub.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks Glemoh101 for your comment. Thanks for dropping by today. Have a great Mardi Gras.


Rosie2010 profile image

Rosie2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Hiya my dear friend Rhonda, WOW! What a wonderful article on Mardi Gras! It was a joy to read from beginning to end. I didn't know much about Mardi Gras, so I found this fascinating. Great job! Thumbs up and awesome!

Have a nice day gf,

Rosie


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks my sweet Rosie. Thanks for enjoying my article. Valentines Day does have interesting history behind it. Have a wonderful day.

Sweet wishes Rhonda


Eric Musch 5 years ago

I have never been to Mardi Gras, but I would consider going. Sounds like we should all go atleast once. Great Hub.


N.E. Wright profile image

N.E. Wright 5 years ago from Bronx, NY

Hi Rhonda,

Nice article. Very informative. I really enjoyed learning stuff I have never even heard of before. Talk about a rich history.

My mother has wanted to go to Mardi Gras since my siblings and I were kids.

Every year about a few months before it would begin she would speak about how she wished she could afford to go to Mardi Gras.

She never really spoke much about taking us kids, or even my father. LOL. Always she and her co-workers may go. LOL. Hum? LOL.

I would love to be able to take her one day, but I will pace myself, because, as you said, it seems too intense at times. LOL.

Thanks for sharing.

Take Care,

N.E.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Hi N.E. Wright. Thanks for your comment. You should go at least once in your lifetime. It is intense, if you go to other places besides the French Quarter, it is less intense. Your mom would enjoy it and so would you. The food is awesome. The music is different but nice. They are always adding something different every year. It will be and experience that is for sure. Thanks and have a great day.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting - I like learning new things.

Thanks.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks Lady E for your comment. I am glad you learned something new about Mardi Gras. Thanks and have a nice Day.

Sweet wishes Rhonda


Wanderlust profile image

Wanderlust 5 years ago from New York City

Mardi Gras is definetely perfect time to visit New Orleans. The French Quarter looks so lively, and doesn't matter if you are juat watching celebration or participating in it - it is a lot of fun!


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks Wanderlust for your comment. Sounds like you enjoy Mardi Gras to. Have a great Mardi Gras and thanks for stopping by.


MyMastiffPuppies profile image

MyMastiffPuppies 5 years ago

Great job on your research! I have not been to New Orleans but would love to go.I think the city is rich in history and culture.Voted up,useful and awesome...


EricJM 5 years ago

I have never been to Mardi Gras but would love to go one day. You did a great job here. Thanks for sharing.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks MyMastiffPuppies for your wonderful comment. Yes New Orleans is rich in culture and history. Everyone should go to Mardi Gras at least once in a lifetime. It would be and experience that you want forget. Thanks for your comment and your vote. Have a great day.


tnvrstar profile image

tnvrstar 5 years ago from doha, qatar

Wow! beautiful hub! madri gras is fun


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks tnvrstar for your comment. Yes Mardi Gras is fun. Everyone should go a tleast once.


stars439 profile image

stars439 5 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful hub. If a person enjoys photography, the colors of Mardi Gras or beautiful. God Bless You.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Hi stars thanks for your comment. Yes Mardi Gras has the most beautiful colors. Thanks for dropping by and God Bless you my friend.


IN2Deep profile image

IN2Deep 5 years ago

Mardi Gras means fun- Thanks for sharing the Great Information. Have a Wonderful Day :)


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Thanks IN2Deep for your comment. Yes Mardi Gras means fun and wonderful food. Everyone should go at least once in a lifetime. Your comments are always appreciated.

Have a great day.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Simply marvelous! You selected an utterly fascinating subject and your exposition is excellent. I learned a lot. Thank you for the illumination.


Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast Author

Hi James nice to see you again. Thanks I am glad you enjoyed my article. Mardi Gras is simply fascinating in itself,I just put it into terms that everyone could relate to. I believe everybody should go at least once in a lifetime. Your comment is most appreciated.

Have a great day.

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