Mardi Gras 2014!
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is always up for a celebration, and Mardi Gras season is the crème de la crème for partygoers! Credited as a major tourism event on the Coast, Mardi Gras has been awarded one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Winter Events for the past three years. Although Mardi Gras day itself is March 4, the festivities start in February with more than 20 parties and parades along the Coast.
Mardi Gras history. Originating in medieval Europe, Mardi Gras became popular with the French in the 17th and 18th centuries. French for Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras refers to the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville arrived south of New Orleans and designated a plot 60 miles south of the city, Pointe du Mardi Gras. When Bienville established New Orleans in 1718, he brought the Mardi Gras tradition with him. Mardi Gras balls and festivities became deeply ingrained as part of the New Orleans culture in the late 1800s, with the first parade in 1872 honoring visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, whose family colors of purple, green and gold became the color symbols for Mardi Gras: Purple representing justice; green, faith; and gold, power.
Mardi Gras traditions. One of the most popular Mardi Gras traditions is the king cake. The Mardi Gras season officially begins on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, January 6th, known as King’s Day, the holy day honoring the meeting of the Three Wise Men with the baby Jesus. The cake is oval shaped to represent unity and the circuitous route taken by the three kings bearing gifts. The plastic baby hidden in the cake symbolizes the Christ Child. The throwing of beads, another popular tradition, is said to have started when a Mardi Gras queen tossed her pearl necklace into the crowd. Want more history? Check out numerous Mardi Gras sites, including this one.
Now, ready for the parades to roll? Here are a few key dates to remember. Click here for a complete schedule.
February 22: Long Beach 43rd Annual Carnival Association
February 23: Waveland 47th Annual Krewe of Nereids
February 28: Ocean Springs 6th Annual
March 1: Gulfport 44th Annual Krewe of Gemini
March 2: Pass Christian Parade
March 3: Biloxi 14th Annual Children’s Parade
March 4 (Mardi Gras day):
· Downtown Biloxi, Gulf Coast Carnival Association and Krewe of Neptune (two parades, following each other)
· Downtown Bay St. Louis, 7th Annual Krewe of Diamonds
· Downtown Gulfport, 44th Annual Krewe of Gemini Night Parade
“Throw me something, Mister!” But watch out: You may see a cabbage, potato or moon pie flying your way!