Mardi Gras Beads
Catching beads at Mardi Gras
If you've never had the opportunity to attend a Mardi Gras parade, you're definitely missing out. The week of Mardi Gras is widely celebrated, and people flock to New Orleans, Louisiana, from all over the world to watch parades, eat great food, and of course, catch Mardi Gras beads.
What Is Mardi Gras?
The words "Mardi Gras" are French for "Fat Tuesday." Fat Tuesday is the final day of a weeklong celebration filled with parties and feasts. The Wednesday after Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is known as Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, which is observed by Christians and marks a time of prayer and fasting in the days that lead up to Easter. Some consider the week of Mardi Gras to be "going out with a bang" before fasting for Lent!
Mardi Gras has become a broadly advertised and largely commercial celebration that dramatically boosts tourism for New Orleans and surrounding areas. Parades, floats and Mardi Gras beads can be found all along the Gulf Coast. Most towns in the surrounding areas have Mardi Gras supply stores that open doors only once per year to promote the sale of plastic toys, masks, goodies and, of course, wholesale Mardi Gras beads.
Mardi Gras Beads
Beads at Mardi Gras continue to be the most popular and most prominent keepsake from the event. The sheer volume of items thrown to people will ensure that every spectator goes home with their pockets, purses and backpacks full of beads, toys, lights and much more. Believe it or not, while the practice is common, there is no need or special significance for exposing oneself to get the attention of the masked Mardi Gras performers.
If you've ever wondered, "why beads," consider the following: In the 1920s, the Rex Krewe tossed necklaces made of glass beads during one of the parades of the Carnival season (the parades had been going on since the 1830s, so almost a century passed before the first bead was thrown). Because the beaded necklaces were such a huge hit with patrons, all the krewes began to take part, and thus the tradition was born!
Today, Mardi Gras is a must-see celebration. However, many people tend to avoid the New Orleans area during Mardi Gras because of all the rowdy behavior. If it's your goal to steer clear of the craziness, you need only avoid the French Quarter. Tame celebrations take place all over the city, so there's no excuse not to attend. If you've never been to Mardi Gras, maybe this year you should make the trip to New Orleans to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime celebration!