According to the site Mardi Gras New Orleans, the origins of Mardi Gras are centered in medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice and landing in France. When the French came to the new world to colonize parts of North America, Mardi Gras came along for the ride. It landed in what would one day become the state of Louisiana, and the first named spot in that state was first called “Pointe du Mardi Gras”. This was in 1699.
By 1718, New Orleans was founded and by 1730, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly. At this time, however, they didn’t celebrate by throwing beads, having giant parades and drinking a lot. Instead, the were very French, and celebrated with elegant and elaborate balls, suitable for a Mardi Gras princess. The affairs were the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls that still continue today.
It wasn’t until 1781 that the first reference to a Mardi Gras “carnival” appeared. By the late 1830s, there were processions with flaming torches and maskers with carriages as well as riders on horseback. In 1856, the Mistick Krewe of Comus was formed, the members of this krewe were always anonymous, and the krewe was known for its elaborate and dazzling floats.
If, for you, the fun of Mardi Gras has always been the “throws” of beads and other items, you would have had to wait until 1870 to get in on that action. The King of Mardi Gras, Rex, would appear for the first time in 1872 and that was also the year that the official Mardi Gras Colors of purple, green and gold were introduced, oddly enough, to honor a Russian Grand Duke.
In 2022, Mardi Gras begins on March 1, so you still have some time to outfit your krewe. Whether you’re catching beads, eating a king cake, or simply like purple, gold and green, Lynnie Pinnie has the Mardi Gras designs you need!