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FEATURED TRADITIONS | Mardi Gras

She's got baked ribs and candied yams
Sugar-cured Virginia hams
Basement full of those berry jams
That's what I like about the South

Corn bread and turnip greens
Ham hocks and butter beans
Mardi Gras down in New Orleans
That's what I like about the South

A verse sung by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan atests to the popularity of Southern culture and Mardi Gras with Texans.


Mardi Gras has been the traditional celebration held the day before Ash Wednesday since the colonial days when France and Spain governed the Gulf Coast. The widely anticipated day, Fat Tuesday takes place 40 days before Easter. Signaled by the appearance of purple, green and gold King Cakes in family kitchens, locals have enjoyed the Carnival season beginning every January since the early 1800s.

Elite societies, called krewes, held highly competitive balls and extravagant parades as a last big party before Lent. Today, there are more than fifty major parades in the New Orleans area.

Historically, Southern Blacks in service of predominantly White upper class societies carried torches to light the nighttime routes.

In response, the Zulu Parade was established in 1909 by the emerging Black society in urban New Orleans to mock the stereotypes widely held by Whites. It was finally sanctioned by the city of New Orleans as an official parade of Mardi Gras in 1968. New Orleans' beloved Louis Armstrong was the parade's Grand Marshall that year.

Today the Zulu Parade is the lifeline of Mardi Gras taking place early in the morning on Fat Tuesday and featuring such long term participants as the Mardi Gras Indians.

In rural areas, primarily French Acadian settlements such as Mamou, Ville Platte and Thibodaux, Courir de Mardi Gras is celebrated with processions that ride through the prairies on horses collecting items from area farmers to make gumbo. The masked riders meet back in town to enjoy the gumbo, plentiful drinks, dance music and revelry.


/Stay tuned, more to come.


--Mark

Read the plaque outside Fred's Lounge.
See photos of Cajun Mardis Gras.
Get more information about Mardi Gras.
Read about the Mardi Gras Indians.
See the website of the Mardi Gras Indians.



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