15 Mardi Gras Facts Every Fan Should Know

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Mardi Gras, the radiant crescendo of the Carnival season, is a spectacle of parades, masquerades, and indulgent feasts. But beneath its colorful surface lie untold traditions steeped in history. Here are a few Mardi Gras facts that make it even more interesting.

Hidden Royalty

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Every year, secret societies called krewes select their royalty in utmost secrecy. These kings and queens of Mardi Gras are a storied heritage. They embody the spirit and mystery of the occasion through anonymous philanthropy and grand ball invitations.

The Color Code

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The iconic Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold aren’t just for show. They carry deep meanings: justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold). These colors were chosen in 1872 and reflect the fiesta’s rich history and values.

Masked Mystery

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Wearing masks during Mardi Gras is more than just a fashion statement; it’s a law for float riders. This tradition promotes anonymity and equality and allows everyone to mingle without social status or recognition constraints.

Exclusive Throws

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Beyond beads and doubloons, some krewes toss unique, highly sought-after items. Zulu’s hand-painted coconuts and Nyx’s decorated purses are among these treasures. Turning them into collector’s items enhances the parade’s interactive excitement.

Forbidden Flambeaux

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Initially, flambeaux carriers lit the way for night parades with their torches – a custom dating back to the 19th century. Despite modern lighting, this practice continues and pays homage to the festival’s history, adding a fiery spectacle.

King Cake’s Baby

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Finding a plastic baby in your slice of King Cake means luck and prosperity. It also comes with a responsibility: either purchase a cake or host the next King Cake party, a lore that strengthens community bonds during Mardi Gras season.

Mardi Gras Indians

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The Mardi Gras Indians, with their elaborate feathered and beaded costumes, honor Native American tribes that sheltered runaway slaves. This secret society’s members spend months handcrafting their suits for the “Super Sunday” parade, a stunning display of craftsmanship and cultural fusion.

The Krewe of Barkus

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Not all krewes are for humans. The Krewe of Barkus, named in a playful nod to Bacchus, features canines as parade participants. This ceremony highlights New Orleans’ love for pets and community spirit, with proceeds often supporting animal welfare organizations.

Chasing Chickens

Le Vieux Mardi Gras De Cajuns de Eunice, La/Facebook

In rural Louisiana, the Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras Run) involves masked attendees chasing chickens through fields. The quirky tradition is rooted in pre-Lenten celebrations and community feasting and showcases the gala’s diverse cultural expressions.

Lundi Gras Reunion

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Lundi Gras, the Monday before Ash Wednesday, marks the arrival of the King of Zulu and the King of Rex. This ceremonial meeting between the kings, complete with riverfront festivities, reinstates the bond between different Mardi Gras communities.

The Société Des Champs Elysée

Societé Des champs Élyseé/Facebook

A newer, invite-only night parade mimics historical secret societies, with participants boarding a streetcar and stealthily traversing the city. It revives early Mardi Gras rituals’ intimate, mysterious aspects that mix history with modern revelry.

Skeleton Krewe’s Dawn Patrol

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The Skeleton Krewe, clad in bone costumes, roams the streets at dawn, signaling the start of Mardi Gras Day. This eerie custom harks back to the festival’s origins, blending humor and mortality in its wake-up call.

The Mystic Krewe of Druids

The Mystic Krewe of the Druids/Facebook

An air of intrigue surrounds this krewe, known for its secrecy and private membership. The parade, devoid of celebrity grand marshals or announced themes, emphasizes the enigmatic nature of Mardi Gras’ oldest conventions.

The Golden Nugget

Le Vieux Mardi Gras De Cajuns de Eunice, La/Facebook

Some krewes embed a golden nugget in their throws, redeemable for special prizes or party invitations. This rare find enhances the thrill of the catch, intertwining luck with the event’s treasure hunt atmosphere.

Phantom Hosts

Le Vieux Mardi Gras De Cajuns de Eunice, La/Facebook

Elite balls and parties often have phantom hosts, identities concealed to maintain a mysterious aura. An invitation to Mardi Gras offers a chance to experience the hidden side of the celebration, where anonymity allows for unhindered celebration.


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