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Photo Credit to Mathieu Cheze on Unsplash

Spring is coming! The piles of snow may say otherwise, but we are confident it’s on the way. How do we know? Because Fat Tuesday is already next week, so Easter is already on the horizon.

As you know, Mardi Gras is a celebration held the day before Ash Wednesday when Christians celebrate with fatty foods and fun. Traditionally, participants would use the day as an opportunity to eat the richest, unhealthiest foods that remained in their homes before starting the season of Lent.

Although Mardi Gras may not be a huge holiday here in Wisconsin, that is not the case 1150 miles south. Fat Tuesday is one of the biggest parties of the year for New Orleans, so we thought we’d celebrate with a few fun facts:

  • The first Mardi Gras Celebration took place on March 3, 1699, by French explorers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Sier de Bienville. Upon arriving at present-day NewOrleans, they named their landing spot Point du Mardi Gras and held a small celebration (nothing like we see today!)
  • While the terms “Carnival” and “Mardi Gras” are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two different time periods. “Carnival” is the period of fun and feasting that happens between January 6 (the Feast of the Epiphany) and Fat Tuesday, and Mardi Gras is the final day of festivity before the season of Lent begins.
  • The first Mardi Gras Parade was held on February 24, 1857, by the Krewe of Comus. Krewes are individual groups often named after Greek gods and goddesses. Each Mardi Gras Parade Krewe has a unique history and picks a new theme each year.
  • You have likely noticed three colors associated with the celebration: purple, green and gold. These colors were chosen by the Rex, the King of Carnival, in 1892. Purple represents justice; green stands for faith and gold symbolized power.
  • There is not an “official” Mardi Gras. Many may be surprised to learn that Mardi Gras is a holiday like Christmas or Independence Day (although New Orleans is typically the only city where businesses are closed,) so it belongs to everyone. In other areas of the United States, the government may be in charge of their Mardi Gras celebrations, but this does not hold true in New Orleans.
  • Even if you’ve never attended Mardi Gras in the Big Easy, you likely already know that the holiday is big, but you still may be shocked to learn how big. In 2019, the Mardi Gras celebration included 54 parades, 1061 floats, 588 marching bands and 135,000+ participants.

We were surprised to learn just how much history is behind Fat Tuesday, but we know this is just a small sliver of facts. Do you have a Mardi Gras story to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Whether you choose to spend Fat Tuesday out and about or prefer to indulge in the comfort of your own home, we hope you enjoy the celebration. Happy Mardi Gras from Lions Pride!