Mardi Gras Style: What to Wear on Fat Tuesday
Without fail at this time of the year, I find myself with my hands raised in the air as I unabashadly shout "Throw me something, Mister" at groups of masked men until they throw pairs of metallic plastic beads at my head (at some serious speeds) to quiet me down.
Anywhere else, at any other time we would call this a riot. Here in New Orleans, we call it Mardi Gras.
I’m proud to say that I was born and raised here in the New Orleans metro area, and am essentially a part of “old” New Orleans. My family and ancestors have been a part of this great city since it’s inception. Growing up here I think it is really easy to take the culture and history for granted and it wasn’t until I was in college that I started to truly appreciate the rich traditions and history that we have here.
Naturally, Carnival season is one of those traditions! Quick history lesson for you Mardi Gras newbies: Carnival starts on January 6th, which is Kings Day (or Twelfth Night) and goes through Mardi Gras Day itself. The date of Mardi Gras changes each year, depending on the date of Easter, as Mardi Gras is scheduled to fall exactly 47 days before Easter. In a nutshell, Carnival was a season created to “live it up” before Lent begins as Lent is a traditional time for repenting from your sins. Mardi Gras is an incredibly fun and festive time of the year, and well, the fact that you can only buy King Cakes during Carnival Season doesn’t hurt either.
No matter where you live in the world, you can join in the celebration on March 8th by dressing the part using these few tips:
1. Wear Purple, Green, and Gold. While you can wear one of the three, wearing all three together is unmistakably a celebration of Mardi Gras and will have you recognized immediately by revellers everywhere! These colors are not arbitrary, but chosen with care: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
2. Wear a Mask! Mardi Gras pulls some of it's tradition from French masquerade balls, so donning a mask made from feathers or a mask with feathers on it will also help to get you in the Carnival spirit! As a matter of fact, all of the men (and now women) who ride in the parades in New Orleans were formerly required to wear masks on the parade route to keep their identities a secret. Membership in a Mardi Gras "Krewe" is a privilege and is typically a tightly knit social circle which is kept secret from outsiders.
3. Wear a costume. The tradition of wearing outrageous costumes and masks on Mardi Gras day continues, and many people work for months on the "perfect" costume. Your costume can be anything you want, but if you want to stay close to the spirit of the season, then try a court jester, pirate, a king or queen, or a can can dancer!
Happy Mardi Gras, and as we say here in New Orleans - laissez le bon temps rouler - or let the good times roll!