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All About Lundi Gras
Everyone knows about the Mardi Gras season and Fat Tuesday, but what about Lundi Gras? Lundi Gras is a part of the Mardi Gras festivities and falls on the Monday before Fat Tuesday, or the Monday before Ash Wednesday. In 2014, Lundi Gras will fall on March 3.
Lundi Gras is a day of festivities, parades, live music, fireworks, and other fun activities that take place along the Riverfront area of New Orleans. In typical New Orleans fashion, Lundi Gras is one big day-long party.
This lens will look at the history and other information about Lundi Gras, but be warned - you might want to book a ticket immediately to enjoy the festivities this year!
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History of Lundi Gras
Lundi Gras is a relatively new tradition that stems from the idea of Shrove Monday. Also known as Collopy Monday, Rose Monday, Merry Monday, and Hall Monday, Shrove Monday is the Monday before Ash Wednesday and is a day on which many Christians have celebrations. The word "shrove" is the past tense form of "shrive", which means to gain absolution for one's sins through confession or penance before the beginning of Lent.
The Lundi Gras tradition technically began in 1874 but was not actually called "Lundi Gras" until 1987, when journalist Errol Laborde coined it as such. You may be interested in Laborde's book entitled The Early New Orleans Carnival from Comus to Zulu.
The Lundi Gras tradition basically revolves around the king of Mardi Gras, Rex , arriving by boat in grand fashion and proclaiming his rule over the Mardi Gras festivities. In 1874, Rex chose to have a grand arrival in New Orleans by boat from the Mississippi River. His "royal court" was placed in fancy carriages after arrival and driven through the streets of the city to City Hall. The mayor and other city officials would then present Rex with the keys to the city and proclaim his rule over Mardi Gras.
This tradition continued until World War I put a stop to Mardi Gras. When Mardi Gras returned two years later, Lundi Gras and the tradition of Rex's arrival was as good as forgotten. However, in 1987, Rex returned in his grand fashion at the Riverfront at the foot of Canal Street. Since then, the tradition was referred to as "Lundi Gras", and the grand landing of Rex continues. Parties, fireworks, live music, flamboyant costumes, food, dancing, and all kinds of other fun stuff happen on this day along the riverfront.
Lundi Gras Festival in New Orleans
Zulu Lundi Gras Festival
The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club puts on a huge and festive event every year on Lundi Gras called the Zulu Lundi Gras Festival . The festival began in 1993 as a result of an idea by Ms. Karen Noles of the Audubon Nature institute and George Rainey of Zulu. The event takes place along on the Riverfront at Woldenberg Park and features flamboyant floats, costumes, and exciting marching bands. Great restaurants from the New Orleans area provide delicious food and music is performed by many well-known and talented musicians. Zulu memorabilia, arts, and crafts are on display in the African Village. Towards the end of the event, King and Queen Zulu arrive. It is a sight to see! At the festival, there is also a children's village that allows children to display their talents through art, drama performance, and music.
What is your favorite Mardi Gras parade?
Among the parades on Lundi Gras such as Proteus, Orpheus is perhaps the most popular. Orpheus was founded in 1993 by the famous New Orleans musician Harry Connick Jr. and is known for its colorful musical themes and famous participants. "Monarchs" of Orpheus have included Dan Ackroyd, Vanessa Williams, Stevie Wonder, and Travis Tritt. With about 30 flamboyant and colorful floats, Orpheus features a huge Trojan horse and a 139-foot leviathan. The people on the floats generously throw beads, themed plastic Krewe of Orpheus cups, and doubloons, which are colored coins made of aluminum that have been used in parades since Rex first used them in 1959. Be sure to watch the video below of the 2012 Orpheus parade - you're in for a treat!