by Female Abroad

With the Disney World trip coming up and us staying in Port Orleans, French Quarter I thought it might be fun (and festive) to touch on some little known facts to prepare you for the Mardi Gras (or Mardi Grog if you are staying at the resort) so with that Laissez las bon temps rouler!

Brief History of Mardi Gras

Lazy what bon ruler? I guess that's a close attempt... Lay-say le bon tom roo-lay or in English "Let the roll time roll!" which also happens to be the official greeting. Practice it because you will be hearing and saying it a lot.

Mardi Gras originally is believed to have been started in 1699 before making it's way over to New Orleans who started it in 1860. It was actually started as a religious festival. That is why it starts on epiphany (also known as Three Kings Day) with smaller celebrations / parades up until the 12-day parade period. Usually the celebrations will feature a King Cake which has a little plastic baby hidden inside. Find the baby and you bring the cake to the next celebration. The last 5 days of the parade period is the Mardi Gras you see everywhere. This would be Thursday to Fat Tuesday.

Join a Krewe

Are you part of the Krewe? Parades are run by different Krewes (pronounced crews) who create floats based on different themes every year. If you are wanting to join the application varies from Krewe to Krewe with some featuring a simple application and others with long waiting lists. If you make it on the Krewe then make sure to know the hierarchy. When a parade is happening, the first person you see will be the Krewe leader who will be followed by the King and/or Queen. Next are the Maids and Dukes followed by the remaining revelers. There are also the Mardi Gras Indians (a group of African-American's) who throw their own parades and usually do not list the where/when of these events.

Did you know? If you make it on Krewe or ride on the float you have to (by law) wear a mask or have your face painted while on board. Want beads from the float? Yell "Throw me something Mister". There are rare items people want that are not beads. Stand in the front and keep an eye out for the rare bedazzled shoes or the white painted coconuts. You can sometimes buy your way onto a float but you have to know someone in the Krewe who is selling their spot.

General Mardi Gras Tips

What should wear?
Well if you want to fit in, a mask, and make sure to take part in the official colour pallet of green, gold, and purple. Did you know that these colours actually represent different things?

  1. gold is for power
  2. purple is justice
  3. green is for faith

Chance of Cancelation: Low
These parades will happen rain or shine and have only been cancelled a couple of times for large, important reasons like the World Wars and an outbreak of Yellow Fever. Even the Super Bowl in 2013 didn't stop the party, it just postponed it. Since everyone wanted to watch the game, Super Gras was postponed by 5 days.

Family Fun
Planning on going with your kids or teens and don't want to be stuck in the mess but still experience the party? Skip the French Quarter. New Orleans is a big place but the seedy French Quarter is not the place to stay during the festival, head to uptown where you will be joined by local families which provide a more family friendly atmosphere without all of the drunk shenanigans.

Can't make it?
Can't make if or don't want to go to New Orleans then check out these other Mardi Gras favorites:

  1. Europe: Nice, France
  2. USA: Mobile, Alabama and St. Louis, Missouri
  3. Canada: Quebec City, Quebec
  4. Caribbean: Trinidad and Tobago
  5. South America: Rio de Janerio, Brazil

Got any other tips? Shoot me over an email or leave a comment on the first page. Safe travels!