Saturday, February 14, 2015

Traditions and Mardi Gras

Tradition is undeniably one of the primary themes in Achebe's Things Fall Apart. As it is Carnival season, let's take a look at the history and culture that helped establish Mardi Gras. As early as the mid-17th century, the French custom of a "Boeuf Gras" (fattened calf) feast celebration had been integrated into French colonies. In 1703, in what is now Mobile, AL, the first Mardi Gras was held. That festival still runs today (I went to the Mobile parades with some relatives a few years ago). Back then, the celebration entailed 16 men processing throught the streets with a massive, fabricated bull head to urge everyone to feast as Lent approached.
Bienville established New Orleans in 1718, and Mardi Gras (it isn't until 1781 that we can refer to it as "Carnival") solidified itself as a New-Orleans icon by the 1730s. Around 1740, the first of a long history of Mardi-Gras balls and societies appeared. In 1856, the first floats (the Krewe of Comus, named after a Milton character) rode alongside flambeauxes and horses, and they were referred to as "tableaux cars").
In 1872, the Krewe of Rex was established as the king of Carnival, and the colors purple, green, and gold were attached to Carnival as a whole to honor the colors of Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff of Russia. The rest is history!

Have an good Carnival. Stay safe y'all.

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