I think that when it comes to Mardi Gras there is a misconception that it only takes place in New Orleans. New Orleans is certainly famous for it's Mardi Gras, but in fact Mardi Gras celebrations are all over Louisiana and Texas as well. Coach Dad even told me that they celebrate their own form of Mardi Gras in California. As I was researching more information on Mardi Gras to share with you, learned a new fact myself. Mardi Gras in America was actually begun in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. It wasn't until 1857, a year after the founding of a Mobilian mystic society, its members brought Mardi Gras to New Orleans. Yeah... I know, I was surprised too.
Mardi Gras has its historical roots in ancient European customs. The "Traditional Cajun Mardi Gras" dates further back in time than the New Orleans' style Mardi Gras. The term Mardi Gras which is French for "Fat Tuesday", refers to the ancient Druid custom of using oxen in celebrations commemorating the end of winter and the coming of spring. Hundreds of years ago, in France, the poor farmers did not have much to eat during the winter. When all the food was gone, the aristocrats would allow them to beg from house to house. During this time of celebration, the farmers would mock the kings, queens, bishops and teachers by dressing like them, but in rags and tattered clothing. As years passed the begging day turned into a holiday. Oxen were ceremoniously paraded through the village streets and countryside and then the oxen was hoisted above a wooden grate and sacrificed, thereby becoming the final meat meal before the start of what would later be known as Lent. The young Catholic Church adopted and purified this ritual, thus carnival as a pre-Lenten celebration was born. Carnival, loosely translated as "farewell to the flesh," stems from the Latin carnelevare. Carnival usually refers to the three or four week season of balls and pageants immediately prior to Fat Tuesday. When the French Acadians, or Cajuns, settled in Louisiana, they brought this old custom with them.
I'll have more information and history for you tomorrow on Mardi Gras.