A taste of Mardi Gras history

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 9:22 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons.

By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans, but not with the parades we know today.

In the early 1740s, Louisiana’s governor instead established elegant society balls, which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.

By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Decades later, these street events were announced in newspapers transforming over the years into the extravagant parades we recognize today.

It was in 1875 that Governor Warmoth signed the “Mardi Gras Act,” making Fat Tuesday or ‘Mardi Gras’ a legal holiday in Louisiana-- after that guess you can say the rest is history.

Most Mardi Gras krewes today came from private social clubs with restrictive membership policies.

Since all these parade organizations are completely funded by their members, some New Orleanians call it the “Greatest ‘Free’ Show on Earth!

You can learn more about the traditions and history of Mardi Gras here.

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