History of Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since the explorer Iberville first set foot here on Mardi Gras Day set foot in 1699. In French colonial days, wealthy members of Creole society threw lavish Mardi Gras balls from Twelfth Night (Jan. 6th) to Fat Tuesday Eve. In 1857, the first parade rolled through the city streets, courtesy of the Mistick Krewe of Comus. And in 1872, Rex, the king of Mardi Gras made his debut. Today, hundreds of Mardi Gras clubs (krewes) host grand balls and dozens of dozens of parades.
The e customs surrounding Mardi Gras are fascinating and fun. One of the most recognizable symbols of this celebration is to wear masks are Mardi Gras masks. The practice of masking dates back to the European celebration of Carnival, and some think it has its roots much farther back in the celebration customs of pagan Rome. Mardi Gras masks lend an air of mystery and magic to the revelry. One of the main advantages of masking for Mardi Gras parades and parties is that one’s identity is concealed. Ordinary societal expectations are suspended, and one can behave in ways he or she normally would not.
Appropriately, the masks themselves have a life and a history all their own.
Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday in French, is the celebration that begins on January 6 th (Twelfth Night) and continuing through Mardi Gras Day, or Fat Tuesday, which is the last day before Lent begins. Mardi Gras is widely understood as New Orleans unique take on the Carnival celebration, which allows partiers an opportunity for one last outrageous debauch before settling into the pious reflection and repentance called for by the Lenten season.
Though it has its roots in the calendar of the Catholic Church, Mardi Gras has become an almost entirely secular holiday, enjoyed by people of all
backgrounds and religions.
Learning with games:
- Find your partner
Each student is given either a picture or the name of an object related to Mardi Gras. They need to find their partner in the room.
- Forbidden word bead game
Each student receives a string of Mardi Gras beads/ a picture related to the celebration/ a mask (it comes to the imagination) when they arrive to the activity. Choose a group of words that people are likely to say a lot during the party (like “beads” or “drink.”) If a guest catches someone saying the forbidden word during the party, they can take a string of the special beads from them.
Whoever has the most necklaces at the end of the night is the winner.
- Guess how many beads
To set up for this game, fill a glass jar with as many Mardi Gras beads as you can fit into it (it can be candies). Leave out slips of paper for people to write their guesses on and a box to keep them in. Whoever’s guess is the closest by the end of the night is the winner.
- Hot potato trivia
Take a small object related to Mardi Gras. Hand the object to a student and then turn around facing away from the class. Tell the students to pass the object around. After a few seconds have passed, shout ‘Stop!’ The student holding the object at that time must then answer a question set by you. If the student answers the question successfully, he or she scores a point. If not, the game continues. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.