January 8 2008 | Latest NewsNEW ORLEANS PRIDE, WEEK OF JANUARY 28, 2008
MARDI GRAS THROWS - OFFICIAL SONG - COLORS
Mardi Gras is a Christian festival borrowed from the pagans. The pagans who survived the dreaded winter, showed their appreciation to their gods for surviving by throwing flour (the symbol of life) into the fields.
Maskers on Mardi Gras floats throw to the crowds in appreciation for coming to witness the parade. Before there were parades in New Orleans, the old pagan custom of throwing flour was practiced, but got out of hand and was banned by law.
His Imperial Highness, Alexis Romanoff Alexandrovitch, Grand Duke of the Russian Empire in late 1871, early 1872, was touring the United States. He attended a musical comedy entitled, "Bluebeard" in which the lead was sung by Miss Lydia Thompson. In the play she sang an absurd ballad called, "If Ever I Cease to Love". The grand duke became infatuated with both the song and Lydia and followed her on her tour that ended in New Orleans. Rex was formed that year and held its first Mardi Gras parade in honor of the grand duke. To please him, the little song, "If Ever I Cease to Love" was played for his benefit and was adopted as the official song of Mardi Gras.
COLORS - PURPLE, GREEN AND GOLD
In 1872, when Tex organized their first parade, there was not sufficient time to make a costume, so a costume was borrowed from Lawrence Barrett, a local actor who was playing the part of Henry III at the Variety Theater. His cloak was purple with rhinestones as green as the sea and his scepter and crown were gold; hence the colors of Mardi Gras were born.
In 1892, Rex parade theme was symbolism of colors with purples representing justice, green for faith and gold stands for power.
NEW ORLEANS TERMINOLOGY
FLAMBEAUX, NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS TRADITION
According to Webster's Dictionary, a flambeau is described as a "flaming torch". The better term in New Orleans would be "EXCITEMENT". The first nighttime parade in New Orleans with a theme, parade route, floats, masked riders plus flambeaux was the Krewe of Comus, February 24, 1857. The first Comus parade had only two floats, Comus, the God of Revelry, on one, and Beelzebub in the mouth of a volcano on the second. The floats were followed by hundreds and hundreds of masked revelers, most of them dressed as devils. The city at that time had no electricity and very, very few whale oil lamps to illuminate the streets. To light the way for New Orleans' first nighttime parade, several hundred flambeaux were lit at 9:00 p.m. on the corner of Julia and Magazine Streets. When ignited, the sky lit up as though the entire city was on fire. It drew the people of New Orleans to it like moths to an open flame. Although the city did not catch on fire, the nighttime parade lit by flambeaux did ignite enthusiastic feelings about nighttime parades that are as popular today as the first nighttime parade in 1857.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
Don't throw a victory party until you have achieved victory!