From France to New Orleans: Tracing the Global Spread of Mardi Gras Traditions

Mardi Gras, a centuries-old festival that originated in France and celebrated in many parts of the world, has recently been observed in a variety of ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festivities, which normally include large crowds, parades, and revelry, have been scaled back in several cities.

Despite the restrictions, people across the United States have found ways to celebrate the holiday while staying safe. In New Orleans, which is famous for its Mardi Gras celebrations, residents decorated their homes and yards with elaborate displays, a tradition known as “house float.” People in other cities have also adopted the concept and transformed their homes into floats.

In Mobile, Alabama, the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the country, the parade was canceled for the first time in 150 years, but residents still participated in socially distant events, including a scavenger hunt and a drive-through parade.

Other cities have opted for virtual celebrations, including concerts, cooking classes, and costume contests. Despite the changes, the spirit of the festival remains strong, with people finding new and creative ways to celebrate while prioritizing safety.

Mardi Gras, which means “Fat Tuesday” in French, is traditionally held on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. The holiday is known for its colorful costumes, music, and food, including the iconic King Cake.

While the pandemic has disrupted many traditions, people’s ingenuity and resilience have allowed them to find new ways to celebrate Mardi Gras and keep the spirit of the festival alive.