Mardi Gras 101: Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulet!

National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, October 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Mardi Gras 101: Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulet!


Attending Mardi Gras is not necessary in order to come to the convention and enjoy a great time in New Orleans. The convention officially starts after the festivities end, and there is plenty of fabulous fun to have in the city without having to wear a mask. However, for those of you who want to experience the revelry and romance of one of the most famous celebrations in the world, it helps to know a little about it.

A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY

Mardi Gras has roots as far back as the revelers in ancient Rome and a history that encompasses Roman emperors; the Medieval Christian church; the Catholic church; bals masqués, or masked balls, in Renaissance Italy; French culture, kings, and explorers; and a Russian grand duke. The first Mardi Gras pageant took place in 1857. Since then, New Orleans has staged more than 1,800 Mardis Gras parades and, in 2015, the city will celebrate its 168th Mardi Gras.

MARDI GRAS-A SEASON, NOT JUST A DAY

Contrary to popular belief, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) is actually a multiday carnival season that starts each year on January 6, the Twelfth Night feast of the Epiphany-the day the three kings visited baby Jesus. Fat Tuesday (February 9, 2016) is the culminating day of the season, a date set by the Catholic Church to occur the day before the penitential season of Lent.

Twenty-nine parades are expected to roll in 2016, with even more filling the streets of several of the city's suburbs. The New Orleans parading fun starts on Wednesday, January 6, and culminates with the traditional line-up of Zulu, Rex, Elks, and Crescent City (all krewes) on Fat Tuesday, February 9. Conference rates at convention hotels begin on Saturday, February 6, and those of us staying in the convention hotels will have a ringside seat to catch all the beads, doubloons, and carnival spirit! Between Saturday and Fat Tuesday, more than a dozen krewes will ride the traditional parade route through the heart of the city, from Napoleon Avenue to St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street. The most famous "superkrewes," including Endymion, Bacchus, and Orpheus, parade the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Each of these parades hosts celebrity Grand Marshals and Monarchs. Some of the celebrities in 2015 included John C. Reilly, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Lee Ann Rimes, and the Beach Boys. In addition to all of the parades that will be rolling, there is a huge Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) celebration along the Riverwalk that features a ceremony welcoming the Kings of Zulu as well as live music, food, and a fireworks display. …

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