If you recognize the terms King Cake, Krewes, and Parade Throws, you have probably been to Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is a carnival celebration of eating, drinking, parades, trinkets, costumes, dancing, music and general indulgence enjoyed mostly in waterfront cities around the world. Mardi Gras is held on "Fat Tuesday," the last day of the carnival season, as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday. This year that date is February 21.
Many cities hold Mardi Gras or Carnival events, but perhaps the most popular are Rio De Janeiro and New Orleans.
Although Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is celebrated in towns throughout Brazil and other countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World. The Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, it is also the international event against which all other carnivals are judged and one of the most colorful, interesting and artistically expressive events held around the world. Almost everyone has seen, heard of or read about Rio's Carnaval. Foreign visitors to it alone number around half a million each year.
Carnival is also celebrated throughout the Caribbean, and while Trinidad's party is perhaps the biggest and most famous, there are other great celebrations in St. Vincent and Barbados. While many Carnival celebrations take place just before the beginning of the Easter season in spring, you can find a Caribbean Carnival taking place on some island almost any time of the year.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans means outdoor music, parades, picnics, and floats, with plenty of Cajun food and excitement. Everyone wears purple, green, and gold, colors which will be accessorized by the long bead necklaces that are tossed to the crowds from outstanding and sometimes outrageous, parade floats.
Tossing metallic trinkets to the crowds was started in the early 1870s and is a time-honored tradition. Some "throws" are especially prized by participants, such as hand-decorated coconuts from the Krewe of Zulu. Only the luckiest folks get to take home one of these.
To read more about Mardi Gras, go to Infoplease.com
If you plan to attend a Mardi Gras or Carnival celebration this month, there's no better way to get there than on your Monterey
. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
(Let the good times roll!)