A costumed party participant attends the Krewe of Freret Parade 2022 on February 19, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 2021 Mardi Gras parades were canceled in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Erika Goldring / Getty Images)
Mardi Gras could not have come at a better time during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as cases and hospitalizations fall and states ease the restrictions.
Parties adorned in traditional purple, green and gold came out to party on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans’ first full-length Mardi Gras since 2020. The fun included back-to-back parades through the city and marches through the French Quarter and beyond. , with masks required only in indoor public spaces.
The return of the carnival season has been a much-needed boost to business in New Orleans, where the famous restaurants and venues were restricted or closed for several months. The crowd on Sunday, as the huge Krewe from Bacchus paraded, “was a record for us in the 10 years we’ve been open,” said Thomas Houston, bar manager at Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar, located at the start of the truncated . parade route.
Mobile, Alabama, which calls itself the birthplace of Mardi Gras, also missed hosting a full-fledged carnival last year due to COVID-19, and some restaurant executives say they still have a hard time filling jobs, leading to the strange sight of empty tables while people in some places stand in line out the door. But the music was already banging in the center a few hours before the first fat Tuesday parade, as families used lawn chairs to carve out places behind police barricades on Government Street, which is a main draw through the city.
Parades were canceled last year because officials realized that densely packed crowds by 2020 had created a superspreader event, making the city an early southern hot spot for COVID-19. Instead, people decorated their houses to look like floats as a way to keep the carnival spirit alive.
The story of Shrove Tuesday and fat Tuesday
According to Mardi Gras New Orleanscan be traced back to medieval Europe, which passed through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons.
From here followed the traditional carnival of “Boeuf Gras”, or the fat calf, France to the country’s colonies.
Mardi Gras, the celebration marking the day before Lent – a period of fasting in the Christian religion – has long been associated with New Orleans, but was actually started in Mobile, Ala., In 1699. New Orleans was first founded in 1718.
From 1762, when the Spaniards ruled the city, until 1800, and then between 1803 and 1837, after the United States took over, great festivities and rituals associated with the carnival were banned.
According to History.com, the first recorded Mardi Gras street parade in Big Easy took place in 1837.
Louisiana is the only one that has officially declared Mardi Gras a legal holiday.
According to HITCthe “fat” in the name of the feast refers to the consumption of fatty foods during the festival before some of them are forbidden in Lent.
The story behind the king cake
King cake, the slightly sweet cinnamon bread that is synonymous with Shrovetide, usually comes with a trinket hidden inside.
In the 1950s, a bakery in New Orleans popularized hiding a porcelain baby inside the cake, a practice reportedly traced back to 18th-century France, allegedly to represent Jesus, Eater reports.
Let the good times roll with Naw’lins-inspired Shrovetide treats. Pictured is a traditional New Orleans king cake like the Big Easy itself: Colorful, flashy and sweet! (Photo by Charles Curtis / Duluth News-Tribune / Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Today, the baby figure – which can be made of plastic – is often hidden inside the king cake, and the person who ends up finding the baby in his slice is responsible for taking care of the king cake next year.
King cakes are everywhere. People bring them to the office. Lawyers send them to clients. Families eat them while watching the parades. The neighborhood bars serve them – nothing goes better with beer than dough, cinnamon and frosting.
King cakes can be found as “rosca de reyes” in many Spanish-speaking countries and “galette de rois” in France.
The story behind the colors and the pearls
Mardi Gras New Orelans said Krewe of Rex is one of the oldest participating groups in Mardi Gras.
Historians believe the colors go back to 1872 during the first Rex parade. Rex’s King of the Carnival chose purple, green and gold to be draped over balconies, but it is not clear why the specific colors were chosen.
The handlist for a home in Bywater is wrapped in Shrove Tuesday pearls on February 15, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that cancels traditional Mardi Gras activities, New Orleanians are decorating their homes and businesses
In 1892, the Rex organization gave symbolism behind the colors, saying that purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power.
Punchbowl.com mentioned pearls were not part of the celebration until the 19th century when the cheap necklaces were thrown into the crowds from the parade. Mardi Gras fans instantly became a hit among tourists and soon began decorating themselves in the pearls to celebrate the occasion.
The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.