The Carnival in New Orleans, Louisiana, is better known by the French buzzword Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday. An unmistakable reference to the day of long feasting. People from the whole of the United States and also from Europe flock here to celebrate the carnival.
In 2020, Mardi Gras will be held in New Orleans on 25th February.
New Orleans has the tradition of Mardi Gras, thanks to the French who immigrated to the United States. It is unknown why only New Orleans had developed into a carnival stronghold but it is clear that the Carnival of New Orleans is now known worldwide and every year attracts thousands of visitors to the city, which double the number of inhabitants in the carnival season. Some of the liveliest Mardi Gras destinations in New Orleans, where most tourists are, include Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.
Mardi Gras in green, gold and violet
The origins of the festival go back 320 years. The first official parade of Mardi Gras was held in 1857 and 18 years later, Carnival Tuesday was declared a holiday. To this day, every year the city is wrapped in the official carnival colors of green (hope), gold (power) and violet (justice). Young and old are accompanied by the krewe’s lavishly decorated parade cars with bands through the streets. Despite wars and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans residents insisted on their party tradition.
Proceedings of Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Mardi Gras starts with the traditional masked ball organized by the oldest krewes. Three weekends before Carnival Sunday the ‘Krewe du Vieux Parade’ moves through the city, which is accompanied by musicians and bands. Two weeks before Mardi Gras, a parade takes place every day, which becomes more and more splendid on Carnival Tuesday until the climax of the festivities is reached at Mardi Gras.
More than one million tourists visit the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans each year for which the Carnival is prepared elaborately. During the processions, no traditional chestnuts, but colorful plastic beads strings are thrown into the crowd, as well as toys, stuffed animals and other trifles. The participants at Mardi Gras wear elaborate costumes, which are often much more revealing than visitors are used to from the Puritan USA. The exuberant parades are not as well-mannered as at the Carnival in Cologne or in Venice , but rather remind of the Brazilian Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro or Salvador da Bahia .
In New Orleans traditional food is served with Mardi Gras, such as King Cake. The bakers decorate this cake with sweet yeast dough with icing in the traditional carnival colors of the city: green, purple and gold. The cake hides a small plastic figurine of the baby Jesus or a baby. Who finds the figure, must buy the King Cake next year.
The Mardi Gras Ball
In addition to Mardi Gras itself, a smaller carnival tradition in New Orleans also celebrates its birthday. Since 1819, residents of the Treme area, near the famous French Quarter, have been awakened by the North Side Skull and Bone Gang. The members of the group go door to door in gloomy skeletal costumes in the morning to spread a message of peace. For the rest of the day, there are more and bigger parades.
In addition to public celebrations, New Orleans residents and institutions have been holding private parties and dances for several centuries, the Mardi Gras balls. A masked ball in the Hotel Marriott of New Orleans officially ends the hustle and bustle, unofficially, of course, the night is celebrated until Ash Wednesday.