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Mardi Gras

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 Mardi Gras carnival
New Orleans, Louisiana

February 20, 2007 is Mardi Gras

Parade schedule

  • Hermes 5:45 pm
  • D'Etat 6:30 pm
  • Morpheus 7:15 pm

  • Iris 11:00 am
  • Tucks noon
  • Endymion 3:30 pm

  • Okeanos 11:30 am
  • Thoth 11:30 am
  • Mid-City 1:30 pm
  • Bacchus 5:15 pm

  • Proteus 5:15 pm
  • Orpheus 5:45 pm

  • Zulu 8:00 am
  • Rex 10:00 am
  • Elks Orleans will follow Rex
  • Crescent City will follow Elks Orleans

The colors of Mardii Gras Purple represents Justice; Green represents Faith; Gold represents Power.
throw me something, Mister!  
Throwing the beads  
  Crawfish custome
Bourbon Street in the French Quarter
Bourbon Street in the French Quarter  

History of Mardi Gras:

Mardi Gras was brought to Louisiana by early French settlers. The first record of the holiday being marked in Louisiana is 1699. The starting date of festivities in New Orleans is unknown, but an account from 1743 notes that the custom of Carnival balls was already established by that date. Processions and masking in the streets on Mardi Gras Day took place, were sometimes prohibited by law, and were quickly renewed whenever such restrictions were lifted or enforcement waned.

On Mardi Gras of 1857 the Mystic Krewe of Comus held its first parade. While Comus is the oldest continuously active Mardi Gras organization, Comus was neither the beginning New Orleans Mardi Gras, nor the first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. It did, however, start a number of continuing traditions, and is considered the first Carnival krewe in the modern sense.

War, economic, political, and weather conditions sometimes led to cancellation of some or all major parades, especially during the American Civil War and World War II, but celebration of Carnival has always been observed in the city.

1972 was the last year in which large parades went though the narrow streets of the city's old French Quarter neighborhood; larger floats and crowds and safety concerns led the city government to prohibit big parades in the Quarter.

In 1979 the New Orleans police department went on strike. All the official parades were canceled or moved to surrounding communities such as Jefferson Parish. Significantly fewer tourists than usual came to the city. Masking, costuming, and celebrations continued anyway, with National Guard troops maintaining order. Guardsmen prevented crimes against persons or property but made no attempt to enforce laws regulating morality or drug use; for these reasons, some in the French Quarter bohemian community are fond of calling 1979 the city's best Mardi Gras ever.

In 1991 the New Orleans city council passed an ordinance that required social organizations, including Mardi Gras Krewes, to certify publicly that they did not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, in order to obtain parade permits and other public licensure. In effect, the ordinance required these, and other, private social groups to abandon their traditional code of secrecy and identify their members for the city's Human Relations Commission. In protest, the 19th century krewes Comus and Momus stopped parading. Proteus also suspended its parade that year, but its membership ultimately decided to abide by the council resolution, and Proteus returned to the parade schedule.

Two federal courts later declared that the ordinance was an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights of free association, and an unwarranted intrusion on the privacy of the groups subject to the ordinance. The decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals appears at volume 42, page 1483 of the Federal Reporter (3rd Series), or 42 F.3d 1483 (5th Cir. 1995). The Supreme Court refused to hear the city's appeal from this decision.

Today, many krewes operate under a business structure; membership is basically open to anyone who pays dues to have a place on a parade float. In contrast, the old-line krewes use the structure of the parades and balls to extend the traditions of the debutante season in their social circles. A Knights of Chaos float satirizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose misdesigned levees resulted in the flooding of most of the city and many deaths.

The effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans in late 2005 caused many to question the future of the city's Mardi Gras celebrations. The city government, essentially bankrupt after the storm, pushed for a massively scaled back celebration to limit strains on city services. However many Krewes insisted that they wanted to and would be ready to parade, so negotiations between krewe leaders and city officials resulted in a compromise schedule scaled back but less severely than originally suggested. The 2006 New Orleans Carnival schedule included the Krewe du Vieux on its traditional route through Marigny and the French Quarter on February 11th, the Saturday 2 weekends before Mardi Gras, then several parades the Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th a week before Mardi Gras, followed by 6 days of parades Thursday night through Mardi Gras Day. Other than Krewe du Vieux and two Westbank parades going through Algiers, all parades were restricted to the Saint Charles Avenue Uptown to Canal Street route, a section of the city which escaped significant flooding (some krewes unsuccessfully pushed to parade on their traditional Mid City route, despite the severe flood damage suffered by that neighborhood). Restrictions were placed on time parades can be on the street and how late at night they can end. Louisiana State troopers and National Guards assisted with crowd control for the first time since 1979. Many floats had been partially submerged in the floodwaters for weeks; while some krewes repaired and removed all traces of these effects, others incorporated flood lines and other damage into the designs of the floats. Few if any of the locals who worked on the floats and rode on them were not significantly impacted by the storm's aftermath, and many had lost most or all of the possessions in their homes, but enthusism for Carnival was if anything even more intense than usual as an affirmation of life. The themes of many costumes and floats were more barbed satire than usual, with commentary on the trials and tribulations of living in the devastated city and mocking FEMA, local, and national politicians.

Traditional colors of Mardi Gras:

Meaning of Colors:

  Justice (purple)
  Faith (green)
  Power (gold)

The traditional color of Mardi Gras are purple, gold, and green.
These are said to have been chosen in 1892, when the Rex Parade theme "Symbolism of Colors" gave the colors their meanings. The colors in turn influenced the official colors of Louisiana State University (purple and gold) and Tulane University (blue and green). According to lore, fans of Louisiana State University, prior to a match against Tulane in New Orleans, sought a color to purchase while in the City. As purple, green and gold were prominent in the city, the LSU fans bought pruple and gold as it wasn't green and would later adopt the colors as their official colors. Before and during Mardi Gras, purple, green, and gold fabric is certainly abundant.

the more famous and infamous Krewes

Babylon: One of the ten oldest Krewes involved with Mardi Gras celebrations, it was started by a New Orleans dentist in 1939. Its membership is comprised of mainly physicians from around the country. They don't disclose the theme of the parade, neither the King and queen.

Elks Orleanians: The oldest and largest of the truck Krewes, they have such a large membership.

Hermes: Another one of the oldest parading Krewes, founded in 1938 by a group of businessmen. They were the first Krewe to incorporate neon lighting into their floats' design.

Iris: Named for the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow, it is now New Orleans sole parading Carnival organization for women. The largest ladies club in Carnival history and was founded in 1917.

Mardi Gras Indians: Nearly every section of New Orleans has an Indian Krewe and their members are nearly all African-Americans, founded in the 1880s.

Mid-City: Another of the older Krewes, they were founded in 1933 and are named for the neighborhood where its procession began in 1947. They were the first Krewe to introduce animated floats to the Carnival, one of the favorite for children.

Twelfth Night Revelers: This Krewe has had the honor since 1870 of kicking off the Carnival season with their ball held the twelfth night after Christmas. They continue to use the King Cake as the method in which to pick their Queen and Maids of the Court. The Queen is the individual who finds a gold bead within the King Cake, while the other Maids of the Court will find a silver bead. Their ball is a private, invitation-only event.

The King Cake:

The Feast of Epiphany also called "The Adoration of the Magi" or "The Manifestation of God." Celebrated on January 6th, it is known as the day of the Three Kings or Wise Men (The 3 Magi Kings): Caspar (Gaspar), Melchior (Melchor) and Balthazar (Baltazar). According to an old legend based on a Bible, these three kings (The Magi) saw a bright star on the night when Christ was born. They followed it to Bethlehem and found there the Christ child and presented it with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. On the Christian calendar, the twelfth day after Christmas is known as "Epiphany", "Twelfth Night", or "Kings Day."

Candlemas Day or Dia de la Candelaria El dia de la Candelaria is the day of the Candle or Light, known as the Day of Purification. It is celebrated on February 2nd every year. Its also called the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. In a Mexican tradition for that day, the Nativity scene is put away with a party given by the person who got the Baby Jesus in their piece of bread during the Rosca de Reyes celebration on January 6th. This person will be responsible for making a "Ropon" or christening gown for Baby Jesus. Generally, they celebrate with a dinner party with Tamales and invite all the family and friends that were present at the Rosca de Reyes or Kings Bread cutting.

Related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France as well as Greek "Vasilopita." The choosing of King and Queen from the pie, usually by the inclusion of a bean and a pea, was a traditional English Twelfth Night festivity

Epyphany is celbrated in European Countries and america. Associated of the wise men who broought the gift to Baby Jesus. January 6 is the Epiphany, and it is when King cakes are available in New Orleans.

King cakes ( an oval, sugared pastry) for Epiphany are called different names around the world, "Rosca de Reyes" in México (Kings donut) and shares the same properties as the new Orleans one.

Generally the Kings cake will have inside a little plastic baby (baked inside) and whoever finds it in its piece of cake will have to throw the next party and buy the next King's cake.

The same tradition is held in New Orleans and Mexico, friends get together to have a party with a King's cake, which will lead to another party and so on. The King's cake of New Orleans are topped with colored sugar with the famous colors of Mardi Gras, Purple (symbolizing Justice), Green (symbolizing Faith) and Gold (symbolizing Power).

Rosca de Reyes recipe

King's cake recipe

rosca de reyes kings cake

3 1/2 cups flour
1 packet yeast
3/4 cups of sugar
7 eggs
125 grams butter
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
Dash of salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp aniseed
100 grams raisins
1 tsp vanilla
50 grams candied figs
50 grams candied orange
50 grams candied lemon
50 grams candied cherries
50 grams candied citron
1 beaten egg
Dissolve the yeast in five tablespoons lukewarm milk. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, eggs, melted butter, milk, salt, cinnamon, aniseed, raisins, and vanilla. Knead into a ball; grease it with some butter and place near a warm stove until the dough doubles in size. (About 2 1/2 hours) Meanwhile cut into strips the candied fruit.
Knead, banging it down on the floured tabletop, to make it soft and pliable. Form the dough into a ring or rosca. Insert the baby figurine. Place the rosca on a greased backing tray. Decorate it with the strips of candied fruit. Leave the rosca once more to fluff up again. Brush the rosca with the beaten egg and sprinkle over granulated sugar.
Bake for 40 minutes at 360° F ( 180°C) in preheated oven.
Enjoy! And don't forget whomever gets the Baby figurine
Ingredients Brioche Dough:

1/2 cup lukewarm water, 110 to 115 degrees
2 packages dry yeast
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 C sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
dime, dried bean, or miniature doll


green, purple, and yellow food coloring, pastes
3/4 cup granulated sugar (12 tablespoons)


3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice, strained
3 to 6 tablespoons water
2 candied cherries, halved

Soften yeast in water. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt in mixing bowl. Stir in lemon peel. Make a well in center and pour into it the yeast mixture and milk. Add eggs and egg yolks, and with a large wooden spoon gradually incorporate dry ingredients into liquid ones. Beat in butter and continute beating until dough forms ball. (Mixing of the dough can be done in a food processor.) Place ball on floured board and incorporate more flour if necessary, by sprinkling it over ball by the tablespoon. Knead until smooth and elastic. Brush inside of large bowl with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Set dough in bowl and turn it so as to butter entire surface. (At this point you can refregerate dough overnight.) Cover bowl and set aside for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Brush a large baking sheet with remaining butter. Punch dough down on lightly floured surface. Knead, then pat and shape dough into a cylinder about 14 inches long. Place on baking sheet and form into a ring. Press bean or doll into dough so that it is hidden. Set aside again to rise. When ready to bake brush the top and sides of the ring with the egg-milk mixture. Bake King's Cake in middle of oven at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Slide cake onto wire rack to cool.

Prepare the colored sugars by squeezing a dab of green paste into the palm of one hand. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the paste and rub your hands together to color the sugars evenly. Set aside and repeat process with green, then twice with purple and yellow. (Do not mix sugars.)

When the cake has cooled prepare the icing. Combine the confectioner's sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water in a deep bowl and stir until the icing mixture is smooth. If too stiff to spread, beat in 1 teaspoonful water at a time, until desired consistency is reached. With a small metal spatula, spread the incing over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Sprinkle the colored sugars over the icing immediately, forming a row of purple, yellow, and green strips, each about 2 inches wide, on both sides of the ring. Arrange 2 cherry halves at each end of the cake, pressing them gently into the icing.

The tradition comes from the South of France, few centuries ago. At the beginning people used to present gifts to the “Baby Jesus” and mostly consisted of dried fruits, nuts, flour, honey, eggs and others. To commemorate the Epiphany, they took some of those gifts and baked a sweet roll with the shape of a crown, (Rosca de Reyes or King's Cake), remembering the Wise Kings that went to adore the Baby Jesus. The story says the Kings were looking for the baby, which is why the baby dolls are inside the Rosca de Reyes to look for it.

It is important that you explain to your guests, that there are 2 little plastic dolls: one is Baby and the other is a King. The one who finds the King has to please (honestly) during the feast, to the one who finds the Baby and both have to make a party on the 2nd of February (Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas Day), inviting all the guests that are present and offer them tamales and Mexican hot chocolate. That is part of the GOOD LUCK!

Хрышчэньне Гасподняе, Gouel ar Rouaned, Богоявление, Epifanie, Hellig tre konger, Erscheinung des Herrn, Θεοφάνια, Epifanía, Epifanio, Épiphanie, Bogojavljenje, 주현절, Epifani, Epiphania, Epifania, ნათლისღება, Sollemnitas Epiphaniae Domini, Dräikinneksdag, Trys Karaliai, Vízkereszt, Driekoningen, 公現祭, Epifania, Epifania, Крещение Господне, Sveti trije kralji, Богојављење, Trettondedag jul, 顯現日,

Mardi Gras Copyright 1976-2007 Dr. Gloria M. Norris.  Click     to contact the artist for prices or information