Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the greatest free show on earth:
cool parades, hot jazz, incredible entertainment, and spectacular fireworks. There's no admission charge, for
the romance and adventure of a city where the Old World and the New carouse together in the moonlight.
That's more, it's easy.
You don't have to know much to celebrate carnival in the Big Easy; you just have to be here to have fun.
Still, we've got floatload of information to set the scene, just for the fun of it. Because that's what the revels are about.
Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday."
Strictly speaking, it's the day before the start of Lent, a period of fasting and penitence when Catholics traditionally
renounce the pleasures of the flesh.
Faced with impending abstinence from meat and other indulgences, societies around the world have reacted like convicted
criminals offered a last meal.
“Carnival" literally means"farewell to meat," and some cultures ( New Orleans among them) spend more time including beforehand
than they do atoning afterwards.
Venice, Rio de Janeiro, and Swiss, German, Belgian, and French communities dance, drink, and sing their
way through elaborate pre-Lenten festivities which sometimes include parades or bals masques (masked balls).
The Crescent city, however stands alone: nowhere else is Mardi Gras celebrated on the scale or with the elaborate abandon of New Orleans.
The Mardi Gras season of masking, mystery and merriment begins for New Orleans residents twelve days after Christmas on January 6.
Since medieval times, Twelfth night has culminated the holiday season of rejoicing with masked balls and wild revelry.
But to those who celebrate Carnival, it's just the beginning of a new season of delights.
In New Orleans, it kicks off a
whirl of private and public balls, parties, parades, and general festivities which last through Mardi Gras evening.
And when is Mardi Gras?
It falls sometime between February 3 and March 9, depending on the Spring Equinox which determines
Easter, which in turn fixes Lent, which is the whole reason for Mardi Gras. Got that? Never mind.
The key here is that the parades begin in earnest about 12 days before Mardi Gras.
unimaginable four days of music and madness, parades and parties unlike anywhere else on Earth.