Reveler -n. festive merrymaker who participate in the period of Carnival, the day of Mardi Gras, by partipating in the balls, or other events, including parades en masse. Crowds at a Mardi Gras parade who are more than spectators, they are participants.
Mardi Gras - translates to English as Fat Tuesday. The last day of Carnival celebrated with numerous parades and balls. Though a misnomer, the term Mardi Gras is often used to describe the days and weeks preceding Fat Tuesday. Always on a Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday as the English know it, falls 46 days before Easter or the day before Ash Wednesday when the 40 day penitential season of lent begins. It is the culmination of the Carnival Season.
Laissez les bon temps rouler----pronounced ( lay-zay lay bon ton role-ay ) french for one of the most spoken phrases in the Cajun speak of the land. It's almost risen to the level of a battle cry. translation is , "Let the good times roll!"
Bal Masque ( pronounced ball mask') n. the formal masked ball of a mystic society featuring dramatic entertainment, music, dancing, food, and drinks. If the organization parades, the bal masque is usually held immediately after the annual parade, or if a day parade is held, later that evening. Balls are most always based on a theme (e.g. mythological, literary, historical) which is carried out through scenery, decorations, costumes, tableau performances, etc. Attendance requirements include appropriate attire (costume de rigor) and a legitimate invitation from a mystic society member. This term is passed down from similar 16th and 17th century European events.
Beads - n. necklaces, also known as throws, from floats or from balconies and worn by revelers and maskers alike. This practice, begun in the 19th century here in New Orleans, gives the parades an interactive feel between parade rider, and the attendee, making both participants. No other holiday sees this level of interaction between the organization and it's fan base! Beads vary widely in color, size, style, length, and quality. (n.) form of currency at a Carnival/Mardi Gras parade whose value mysteriously declines by the time Ash Wednesday comes around.
Mardi Gras Terms
The History of Mardi Gras
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to Medival Europe, though we have no written record of how that really transformed into the current Mardi Gras of today. But the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today -- with Kings, Mardi Gras colors, and brass bands -- are traced to New Orleans.
Although we can trace its history to the Romans, a French-Canadian explorer, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans in 1699 and called it "Pointe due Mardi Gras." He also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras.
In 1704, Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile) ... similar to those who form our current Mardi Gras Krewes. It lasted until 1709. In 1710, the "Boeuf Graf Society" was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The procession was held with a huge bull's head pushed alone on wheels by 16 men. This occurred on Fat Tuesday.
New Orleans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptise Le Moyne. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans.. but not in parade form. In the early 1740s, Louisiana's Governor The Marquis de Vaudreuil established elegant society balls -- the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
The earliest reference to Mardi Gras "Carnival" appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association is the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback to celebrate Mardi Gras. Newspapers began to announce Mardi Gras events in advance.
In 1871, Mardi Gras's second "Krewe" is formed, the Twelfth Night Reveler's, with the first account of Mardi Gras "throws."
1872 was the year that a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival -- Rex -- to parade in the first daytime parade. They introduced the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold; the Mardi Gras song, and the Mardi Gras flag.
In 1873, the first floats were constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France. In 1875, Governor Warmoth of Louisiana signs the "Mardi Gras Act" making it a legal holiday in Louisiana, which is still is.
Most Mardi Gras Krewes today developed from private social clubs that have restrictive membership policies. Since all of these parade organizations are completely funded by its members, we call it the "Greatest Free Show on Earth!"
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