Mardi Gras Defined: Speak Like a Local

It’s Mardi Gras time!

Mardi Gras. Two little words with an infinitely large explanation.  For different people it’s different things—an event, an idea, a day, a way of life, piece of history, state holiday, or a million parades and countless memories. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mardi Gras. Two little words with an infinitely large explanation. For different people it’s different things—an event, an idea, a day, a way of life, piece of history, state holiday, or a million parades and countless memories. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are you ready?

There are a few terms you will hear throughout Mardi Gras. Familiarize these terms before you embark upon the revelry and you will understand everything going on around you and know how to converse like a true resident during Mardi Gras.

Say What?

Laissez les bon temps rouler — Let The Good Times Roll

Carnivale — The carnivale season officially begins each year on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, ‘King’s Day’, with traditional balls occurring in the weeks that lead up to the big event.

Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday

Lundi Gras — Fat Monday which is the day before the Mardi Gras holiday.

Mardi Gras Colors — The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. The purple symbolizes justice, the green represents faith, and the gold signifies power.

Mardi Gras Parade — During the Mardi Gras season, there are countless parades. Most Mardi Gras parades will include all the registered Krewe’s in the area along with local businesses and media outlets.

The Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold, and the official Mardi Gras song is "If Ever I Cease To Love." © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold, and the official Mardi Gras song is “If Ever I Cease To Love.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Throw Me Something, Mister — What everyone yells at parades to get throws from the maskers on the floats.

Mardi Gras Beads — During the late 1800s, inexpensive necklaces made of glass beads began to be tossed into the crowds by the parade krewes. Over the years, other Mardi Gras souvenirs have also been passed out to the crowds during the parades such as plastic cups, toys, Frisbees, figurines, doubloons, and moon pies.

Despite all of these other souvenirs, bead necklaces remain the most popular trinket passed out during the celebration. Today, Mardi Gras beads can be found in various sizes, shapes, and colors.

The throwing of trinkets to the crowds was started in the early 1870s by the Twelfth Night Revelers, and is a time-honored expectation for young and old alike.

Make sure you snag numerous Mardi Gras beads—they make for colorful decorations around the RV.

Doubloons — These are coins thrown from floats during a Mardi Gras parade and usually have the crest and names of the Mardi Gras Krewes names on them. Catching a doubloon is difficult so most hit the ground; remember to place your foot on top of any doubloons before picking them up or else you could lose a finger.

King’s Cake — which is a wreath shaped purple, green, and gold cake — is eaten for six weeks!! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

King’s Cake — which is a wreath shaped purple, green, and gold cake — is eaten for six weeks!! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moon Pie — A moon pie consists of a marshmellow sandwiched between two cookie-shaped graham crackers, which is then dipped in chocolate Throwing Moon Pies originally began in Mobile, where they are still the catch of choice for the parades there. The first to throw moon pies were the krewe of “Maids of Mirth” in 1974 as an alternative to boxes of cracker jacks which had been recently banned because people kept getting beamed with the end of the rectangular boxes. Moon Pie is a trademarked name of the Chattanooga bakery in Tennessee which began making moon pies in 1916..

King Cake — Extra-large oval doughnut pastry that is made during the Mardi Gras season. It usually dawns the purple, gold, and green toppings which are indicative of the Mardi Gras colors. Some are just a cake and some have filling like Strawberry, Bavarian Cream, Chocolate, and more. Also a plastic toy baby is inserted into the cake and the lucky person who gets the piece of cake with the baby inside (and doesn’t break a tooth or swallow it in the process!) buys or makes the next King Cake.

Krewe — A Mardi Gras Krewe is a private carnivale club or organization that puts on a ball and participates in the Mardi Gras parades. They usually have a theme for each year and select a king and queen to represent the Krewe in the parades, Twelve night, and Royal gala’s.

12th Night — This is a the beginning of the Mardi Gras Season and falls twelve days after Christmas. This where all the Krewes from an area get together and salute the Kings and Queens who served over the past year’s Mardi Gras.

King Cake usually has a baby Jesus baked into it, and whoever eats the piece with the figurine is believed to have good luck for the rest of the year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

King Cake usually has a baby Jesus baked into it, and whoever eats the piece with the figurine is believed to have good luck for the rest of the year. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Royal Gala — This occurs on Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras. This is where all the Krewes have the chance to present their new Kings and Queens to the public before the Krewe of Krewe’s parade the next day on Mardi Gras.

Capuchon — cone-shaped ceremonial hat worn during the Mardi Gras celebration in the Cajun areas of southwestern Louisiana.

Courir de Mardi Gras — Chicken Run. People (usually men only) in the Cajun areas of southwestern Louisiana get on horses and go house to house in the community and collect things like live chickens and other materials to make a gumbo. They end up at a finishing point where they have a dance and cook for the community. For additional information on Courir de Mardi Gras, see Dance For a Chicken at a Cajun Country Mardi Gras.

Second Line — Famous song recorded by Stop, Inc. When this song is played at Mardi Gras balls, the revelers all line up in a single file line and dance around the floor. Some have masks on while others raise umbrellas.

Fais Do Do — Cajun Music Dance or Cajun Party

Cher (Sha) — Baby or dear

Couillion (koo-yawn) — Means Crazy which most people are during the Mardi Gras season.

Please Note: This is Part 24 of an on-going series on Louisiana Cuisine/Travel Ideas

Worth Pondering…

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.

—Benjamin Franklin

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