American Mardi Gras 192 Years Old Today
We've been celebrating Mardi Gras for so long it's just a natural part of life we give little thought to, other than how many calories we're intaking, how many beads we'll catch, and how much fun we'll have.
The celebration of Carnival or those happy weeks between 12th NIght and the beginning of the Christian period of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday wasn't always a $2 billion dollar industry in the United States. It was even once outlawed by the Spanish provisional governors of Louisiana.
Although Spanish governors had banned Carnival celebrations for French settlers in the area of New Orleans, by 1803 when the Louisiana Territory became a part of the United States, New Orleanians convinced the city council to lift the ban on wearing masks and celebrating.
The Very First New Orleans Mardi Gras Celebration
But it wasn't until February 27, 1827, that Mardi Gras is officially recognized as being born in the United States.
The celebration of Carnival was, of course, a big thing in Europe, so today in 1827 a group of students who'd recently returned to New Orleans from studying in Paris, donned masks and jester costumes and staged their own Fat Tuesday celebration.
No one objected, and by 1833 plantation owners were raising money for official Mardi Gras celebrations.
The Birth of The Krewe
As unthrottled celebrations will, by the 1850s the revelry was becoming punctuated by violence as rowdy revelers were on the streets and rooftops with little law or even good manners enforcement.
This necessitated the forming of a secret society called the Mistick Krewe of Comus, who organized and staged the first large scale, well organized and more or less secure Mardi Gras parade in 1857.
Over time hundreds of Krewes formed in the pursuit of a fantastic but safe Mardi Gras celebration.
Odd Mardi Gras Facts
No parade has actually been held on Bourbon Street since 1979, the streets are just too narrow.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the 2006 Mardi Gras in New Orleans went on with about 60% of the 400,000 visitors received each year, the celebrations signaled an important step in the rebuilding of the Crescent City.
Have a great time, and stay safe!