Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mardi Gras!

Utah has their 24th of July parade to celebrate the Mormon pioneers, where kids on floats throw candy to parade-goers, and Louisiana has Mardi Gras parades to celebrate Fat Tuesday, where masked people on floats throw beads to parade-goers. 
...That's a good comparison, right??

Yes, you guessed it... This week, the missionaries were able to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Sister Barclay sent home lots of fun pictures so you could try to imagine what it would be like to be there, although, I think I'd be alright in saying that the pictures don't do it justice!

Sister Widdison and Sister Barclay

Don't hate on the fact that I wasn't 100% sure of the purpose for the holiday before getting the email... instead, be happy with the fact that Google was kind enough to inform me that Mardi Gras is French meaning "'Fat Tuesday' alluding to the last day of feasting before the fast and penitence of Lent" which starts on Ash Wednesday.

Well, that was a good start, but that still didn't really tell all I wanted, so I found another site called Mardi Gras New Orleans which clued me into a few interesting things to note. To save you all from lengthy reading, here are some of the things I found out: 

• Mardi Gras is now an official holiday in Louisiana

• The first Mardi Gras was celebrated in 1703 near New Orleans

• In the 1700 and 1800's, secret societies were formed who would parade around the streets with either a huge bull's head on wheels or an actual bull draped with a white cloth to signal the coming of the Lenten meat fast

• Mardi Gras changed from elegant society balls into more of a carnival when New Orleans had parades of masked individuals with carriages, horseback riders, and dazzling torches

• A break off of the secret societies of old came in 1856, known as the Mystick Krewe of Comus, and they anonymously brought magic to New Orleans with extravagant floats and masked balls

They pull their floats with tractors!

Sister Barclay and Sister Widdison with another couple of sister missionaries at the parade

• 1870 was the first time different "krewes" started doing Mardi Gras "throws" which includes things like cups, beads, toys, doubloons (basically collectible aluminum medallions), and stuffed animals. 

• Two years later, they invented a "King of Carnival" to preside over the parade, and to impress a visiting Russian duke, the king presented the duke's family colors as the official Mardi Gras colors; purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith

This is how people decorate for Mardi Gras

• Private social clubs make up most of the "krewes" today and since their members fund the parade organizations, the people of New Orleans call Mardi Gras "The Greatest Free Show On Earth!"

• Although Mardi Gras is on Fat Tuesday, the party is known to start about a week before the actual holiday so tourists flock to New Orleans around this time to enjoy the carnivals

Elder Johnson loves his beads!

Sister missionaries displaying their "throws"

"I love this girl!" (Sister Barclay and Sister Widdison)

I asked Collette to tell me about it and she said, "Oh my goodness!! It was a freakin' party! They throw out beads and there's like 9 million people, so it's just crazy! And everyone on the floats are getting drunk and dancing (!) and everyone's fine with it! haha The pics are just not doing it justice... you need to experience this!" 

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