Here in Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a big deal. While New Orleans may have the biggest or most popular celebration, there are festivities all around the state including here in Lake Charles. Have you ever wondered where all the traditions come from? If so, here is a brief history of Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras, which means “Fat Tuesday” in French comes from the tradition of eating rich foods before the traditional fasting associated with Lent. It is considered a day to let go of your inhibitions and participate in things you might not otherwise do.
Most people believe that Mardi Gras first came to the United States in 1699 with the French explorer Sieur d’Iberville. He sailed through the Gulf of Mexico and had set up his camp along the west bank of the Mississippi River, about 60 miles south from New Orleans. Since the day he landed was the same day Mardi Gras was celebrated in France, he named the site Point du Mardi Gras. However, the carnival-type festivities may not have begun until 1827.
The tradition of donning colorful costumes and having wild parties likely stems from the Ancient Roman Lupercalia festival. When Christianity came to Rome, church leaders decided to incorporate the festival into the new faith instead of trying to abolish it, which is why it has a Christian interpretation today.
If you want to know even more about Mardi Gras, visit the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu here in Lake Charles.
Did you participate in the Mardi Gras festival this year?