Local Experiences

Catch The Carnival Experience !

1/20/2015 | By Elaine Stevens

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Catch the Carnival Experience! 
The Mississippi Gulf Coast changes to
waves of purple, green and gold on Tuesday,
Feb 18. Before that day, there is a great
deal of partying and preparation. For those
of you who are experiencing Carnival on
the Coast for the first time or for the locals
who need a quick review of the exciting
season and its highpoints here is your
Mardi Gras Primer:

What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday” in
French and is celebrated the day before Ash
Wednesday as a last "fling” prior to the
40 days of Lent, which precede Easter.
Mardi Gras is a passionate tradition for
thousands on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
It’s another reason and season to party,
parade and partake of life’s pleasures with
family and friends.

What is the history of Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras became an official Christian
holiday in 1582 in Europe under Pope
Gregory XIII. It was first celebrated in
North America in 1699 when Pierre
LeMoyne D’Iberville and his band of
French explorers were camping near a
bayou at the mouth of the Mississippi
River. They opened a bottle of wine, toasted
to the king of France and named their
campsite "Bayou de Mardi Gras.”

What about Biloxi’s Mardi Gras history?
Biloxi was the first Coast city to
celebrate Mardi Gras in 1908, because it
was the only city on the Mississippi Gulf
Coast! Seventeen floats from the oldest
krewe — Gulf Coast Carnival and Literary
Association — paraded along the coastline.
Other cities joined in the festivities in 1929.
Biloxi’s Mardi Gras has been celebrated
every year except for war and Depression
years — and yes, even following Hurricane
Katrina, which devastated the Mississippi
Gulf Coast in 2005. Today, there are 60
different associations or krewes and parades
every weekend beginning in mid-February.
This culminates in the royal coronation ball
March 3, as King d’Iberville and Queen
Ixolib are officially crowned before they
parade before their 80,000 subjects on
March 4.

How were the purple, green and yellow
colors of Mardi Gras selected?
Visiting Russian royalty, Grand Duke
Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov suggested
the colors in 1872 while visiting New
Orleans. Purple represents justice. Green
represents faith. Gold represents power.

What is the difference between Carnival
and Mardi Gras?
Carnival is the season surrounding
the day of celebration, Mardi Gras or Fat
By Elaine Stevens