Mardi Gras Masks, Beads & Supplies
A widely celebrated Christian holiday, Mardi Gras is one of the most awaited events of the year. Otherwise known as the Carnival, it is commemorated in several countries worldwide mostly in those where there are large Roman Catholic populations.
What exactly is Mardi Gras?To anyone who is not aware of what this particular event is all about, Mardi Gras is the celebration before the Epiphany until the day before Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar. The words Mardi Gras are actually French for Fat Tuesday which refers to the tradition of eating rich and fatty foods before the fasting for the Lenten season. It is also called Shrove Tuesday by the English, referring to the religious confessions done before Lent. Celebrated annually, there is no exact date as to when this is observed since it depends on when Easter falls.
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History of Mardi Gras
The existence of Mardi Gras dates back to thousands of years ago celebrated along with the festivals of spring and fertility as well as the Lupercalia and Saturnalia as celebrated by the Romans. When Christianity was introduced to the Romans, Christian leaders decided that instead of totally abolishing the pagan celebrations, they should instead incorporate them with the new faith. Mardi Gras, which was then known as Carnival became an event that is a prelude to Lent, the event where Christians have 40 days of penance. With the spread of Christianity, Mardi Gras was also introduced to other countries like Spain, France, England and Germany. The well known French explorer Iberville introduced Mardi Gras to the Americans back in 1699. This is already a popular event in France since the Middle Ages where it is one of the major holidays that time. When Iberville started his expedition from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi River, he camped at the west bank of the said river on March 3 of that year. This is the same day in which Mardi Gras was observed in France. As a reverence to that significant day, he named the area Point du Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras Traditions Worldwide
There are different ways on how Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout the world but what are common are the parades and the different costumes that people wear. In France, giant masks are worn for the parade. Belgians in Binche, Belgium wear clown costumes in a variety of colors with ostrich feathers on their heads and dance on the streets. Italians have masquerade processions, parades, pageants, masked balls and other forms of merriment to celebrate this annual event. In New Orleans which is just 60 miles south of the above mentioned Point du Mardi Gras, this is one of the biggest events of the year. For the parade, everyone will be dressed up in costumes with some wearing Mardi Gras Masks
. There are parade floats where trinkets are tossed to the people such as doubloons, Mardi Gras Beads
and other similar things. Since the Mardi Gras colors are green, purple and gold, there will be an abundance of such. Business establishments are closed for the event since everyone is expected to participate.
With its importance for the Lenten season, Mardi Gras is not just a mere celebration where people can be merry and gay with the parades and other manners on how it is commemorated. It is also one of the ways of showing the importance of celebrating Christian faith.