20 Vintage Mardi Gras Photos You'll Never Forget!
By Patricia TenaAmazing
eventMarch 02, 2017
A Festival Unlike Any Other
Whether you call it Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, this iconic celebration has been taking place for hundreds of years! In fact, it's believed to have arrived in North America as early as 1699. Ever since, people have gone to extreme lengths to celebrate.
No Costume Is Strange Here
Costumes and masks are perhaps the easiest way to recognize someone celebrating Mardi Gras. But why? In the event's earliest days, masks were worn as a means of escaping society and class constraints so people could feel free to be whomever they wanted - even if they chose to be chained to a tree!
Parties And Feasts!
For many, Mardi Gras is simply an excuse to party and dress up in outrageous outfits with friends. To others, it's the last day to feast on rich foods before fasting for Lent, hence the name Fat Tuesday. This is why it always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday.
Festivities Last For Days!
Still, not every city that takes part in the celebration follows the same timeline. In New Orleans, for example, the festival season stretches from the Twelfth Night (January 5th or 6th) until Ash Wednesday. In Brazil, the celebration begins three days before Ash Wednesday.
Celebrating Rio De Janeiro Style
Not only is Carnival the Mardi Gras of the southern hemisphere, it's also Brazil's most famous holiday! The festivities last for days across coastal cities, and the 2011 celebration in Rio de Janeiro alone drew 4.9 million people!
With millions of people celebrating each year, onlookers see quite the variety of costumed people. Some forgo wearing masks and instead choose to drown themselves in moss. Others opt for bright accessories like beads. And some get even more extreme...
Larger Than Life!
Can they even walk in those gigantic things? Whether you call it festive or just plain creepy, costumed characters like these are nothing out of the ordinary at Mardi Gras celebrations. In fact, float riders who participate in New Orleans are required to wear masks by law.
Canal Street Crowds
But regardless of how beautiful, scary, and mind-blowing some of the costumes are, especially like they were back in the day, millions gather to participate and show their support for everyone involved.
Reputations At Stake
When Mardi Gras first became popularized, women who chose to don masks actually had their reputations questioned. We can almost understand why when they looked like these faceless folks staring into your soul through those slits for eyes!
Taking The DIY Route
Many participants go the do-it-yourself route to make their statement, making masks out of everything from paper and feathers to tinfoil and ribbons.
Meeting Of The Courts
In New Orleans, the end of the Mardi Gras celebration is marked by the "Meeting of the Courts," in which Rex and His Royal Consort, the King and Queen of Carnival, gather to meet with Comus and his Queen at the end of masked balls.
Popping Up Since 1837
The year was 1837 when the first Mardi Gras parade was held in the bustling city of New Orleans. Nowadays, it's not just those of French or Catholic heritage who celebrate, as the tradition quickly became synonymous with everyone over the years.
Mardi Gras Can Be Canceled?
As popular as it may be in New Orleans, festivities have been canceled about a dozen times. Most occurred during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. There was also a cancellation during the 1870s when yellow fever spread across the region. But it hasn't been since 1945 that the last celebration was completely called off.
Feasting On King Cake
One popular Mardi Gras tradition is that of king cake, braided brioche dough laced with cinnamon and glazed with purple, green, and gold sugar and icing. But unlike other desserts, king cake has one special surprise inside...
Find The Baby!
Inside the king cake is a little plastic baby! And whoever the lucky finder of the hidden surprise is must produce the next cake. They may even be tasked with the daunting, yet thrilling feat of hosting a future celebration. But if you don't get the baby, you could be lucky to catch another special item...
During parades, many participants throw doubloons, large wood or metal coins decorated in traditional Mardi Gras colors, into the crowds from atop their floats. Some even have doubloons that are specific to their particular float.
Lighting Up The Night
You can't parade around at night in the dark! That's why before electric lighting became a thing, parade-goers carried flambeaus, otherwise known as torches of flames. In the past, the first flambeau carriers were slaves, but today, the act is seen as a type of performance art.
All Over The World
Besides New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro, Mardi Gras celebrations take place in other major cities in the US, Belgium, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
Celebrating Cayman Islands Style
Mardi Gras in the Cayman Islands has become so popular over all these years that it's now a national festival on the island, lasting three days with a food festival on Monday and all day EDM Ash Wednesday to mark its end.
Come One, Come All
Regardless of the reason, Mardi Gras around the world has drawn millions of participants for centuries. With all sorts of masks, costumes, and accessories, it's certainly a festival unlike any other!