With football season behind us, almost every Auburn University student realizes that Spring semester is the time to venture out of the "Auburn bubble" and use the weekends to explore, weather that is visiting other SEC schools, popular surrounding cities, the beach, or some sort of music festival. This weekend hundreds of Auburn students will be traveling down to Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans, La., to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is known for its elaborate parades, huge crowds, costumes, Cajun food, feathers, and of course, beads. But do we all really know what/why exactly we’re celebrating?
Mardi Gras originated in medevil Europe, and is “Fat Tuesday” in French. Mardi Gras was a Christian holiday in ancient Rome. In March of 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived 60 miles south of New Orleans, and named it "Pointe du Mardi Gras" when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday. The explorer also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane", which is now Mobile, in 1702. In 1703, Mobile celebrated America's very first Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras or “carnival season” was a way to kick off lent which begins on “Ash Wednesday” and lasts until Easter Sunday.
With Mardi Gras comes many traditions, for example, the wearing of masks, the throwing of beads, and crowning the king of the carnival. Masks were originally worn to allow individuals of any social class to mingle with whomever they liked and escape social demands.
The tradition of bead throwing has changed drastically over the years. The king of the first daytime Carnival determined the colors: purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith, all of which are royal colors.
The original idea was to give the different colored beads to the person that demonstrated its meaning. The beads were originally made of glass, and when they were made in plastic is when the throwing of beads became a legendary tradition of Mardi Gras.
Every year there is a king of Mardi Gras crowned in New Orleans. The king’s name is Rex. “Rex” is always a prominent person in New Orleans and is given the symbolic Key to the City by the Mayor. Along with these traditions, many Auburn students participate in Mardi Gras festivities of their own. Such as Mardi Gras Balls, The Queens Luncheon, and the Arrival of Knights.
With so many Auburn students participating in Mardi Gras festivities, I find it nearly impossible to walk down the streets of New Orleans and Mobile without seeing a familiar face of the Auburn family. So indulge in the fun, eat too much Cajun food, and take in the Big Easy and all that it has to offer!
Join the Auburn Family! Enroll at Auburn.