Carnival and Mardi Gras

It’s officially Carnival season and for those of you visiting, the party is just beginning! Carnival is one of my favorite times of the year in New Orleans because it is so representative of the uniqueness that is our city. One of the most common misspeaks we hear from visitors is that they are “visiting for Mardi Gras”, but what they really mean is, “we’re visiting for Carnival”. Mardi Gras is only one day, Carnival is the season. And, believe it or not, it is a religious season – Catholic, specifically. Mardi Gras is also known as “Fat Tuesday”, occurs on a different date each year and always the day before Lent, which is 40 days before Easter. Carnival season begins on January 6th – the Day of the Epiphany – and culminates day by day to end at midnight on “Fat Tuesday”. The general idea behind it was to celebrate all you could before Lent arrived, after which, you must give up “sinful things” for 40 days. Some give up alcohol, some give up food, some give up smoking, some give up gossiping, but all give up something, usually a vice, bad habit or other actions that might fall under one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

And if there is one thing we do well in New Orleans, it is vices! New Orleans is not the only city celebrating Mardi Gras. Many countries throughout the world with a heavily Catholic population celebrates Carnival. In South America, it is called “Carnivale” and you have probably seen the Vegas-like Brazilian dancers with feathers and sequins, part of the South American celebration. However, New Orleans just might do it the best here in America. So, if you plan on visiting New Orleans during Carnival season, try to catch a free parade or maybe you will get the chance to attend one of the famous Mardi Gras Balls, put on by the same Krewes responsible for the amazing parade floats and themes. Cool fact of the day: Mardi Gras is a private event. It is not city sponsored. It is the residents and krewes of the city who are hosting you – keep that in mind while you enjoy our unique French-Spanish-Caribbean-American city!

– The Head Witch in Charge

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