There are few celebrations more synonymous with this part of the world than Mardi Gras. The origin of the festive holiday can be traced to the France in the 17th century, with the traditional revelry of “Boeuf Gras,” or fatted calf. In March of 1699 – on the eve of the holiday – French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a port just south of New Orleans and named it “Pointe du Mardi Gras”. In 1702, Bienville established Fort Louis de la Mobile (current day Mobile) and just a year later, Americas first Mardi Gras was celebrated in this small settlement. In 1718, Bienville founded New Orleans.
Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile), which was the forerunner of modern day Mardi Gras krewes. In 1710, the “Boeuf Gras Society” was formed, and by the 1730s, Mardi Gras was regularly celebrated – but the parades had not yet begun. In the early 1740s, Louisiana’s governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, instituted sophisticated society balls, which became the basis for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
In the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders, led by spectacular gaslight torches (“flambeaux”) that set a celebratory mood. In 1856, six young Mobile natives came together to form the Mistick Krewe of Comus, adding mystical magic with extravagant floats (known as tableaux cars) and masked balls. Krewe members always remained anonymous. In 1870, Mardi Gras’ second Krewe, the Twelfth Night Revelers, was established, and “throws” made their first appearance.
In 1872, King of Carnival Rex was introduced, as were the official colors of purple, green and gold. Purple stands for justice; gold for power; and green for faith. In 1875, Governor Warmoth signed the “Mardi Gras Act,” making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is, known as the “Greatest Free Show on Earth!”.
All Louisiana natives hold Mardi Gras near and dear to their heart! If you are having a party here in Baton Rouge or looking for a way to festively decorate your home or office, you can count on the expert floral designers at Billy Heroman’s to have the most amazing, magical and flamboyant arrangements. This Fat Tuesday, celebrate in dazzling style!