New Orleans Carnival

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Martí Micolau

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Calendar in hand, you have just noticed that during your trip to America the last days of Carnival fall, those in which confetti and colors, masks and wigs are the masters: if in Spain Carnival is a traditional festival, celebrated from North to South, how can you celebrate in the States?

Without a doubt, going in New Orleans where Carnival is not just an anniversary, but a real celebration that transforms the Shrove Tuesday in New Orleans in a party that is unmatched.

The Carnival, widespread throughout Europe, was exported by the French-born conqueror Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienvillee: the first American Carnival was celebrated in 1703 in Fort Louis de la Mobile. From here, this period of celebration became a pleasant moment of joy in all the cities that were gradually founded.

As for New Orleans it seems like Carnival was celebrated as early as 1730, even if it took some time to take on today's contours, for example the birth of the Krews dates back "only" to the second half of the nineteenth century.

Today, the Mardi Gras a New Orleans is celebrated in a big way and, passing through here, you will see that the organizers do not exaggerate when they define their Carnival as “Greatest Free Show on Earth!”.

Get ready, in fact, to be overwhelmed by music and floats, but also parades and groups of figures whose dress code is purple (symbol of justice), green (symbol of faith) and gold (power); the shops and offices are strictly closed and the citizens, together with the tourists, attend the parades in an atmosphere of student spirit and serenity.

Those responsible for so much joy are the Carnival Blood, the groups that organize the floats and animate the streets of the city on feast days, each with a peculiarity. Coconuts are the historical gift that the Krewe Zulu (parade on February 17) makes to spectators, magnificence has always distinguished the floats of the Krewe of Bacchus (parades on February 15) while the Krewe of Rex (parades on February 17) is one of the oldest participants (since 1872). The Indian Krewe parade is always aroused a lot of anticipation, of which, by tradition, neither the date nor the route is known.

Both the names and the themes of the other Krewe are varied and imaginative: among those inspired by the world of ancient Greece, there is the Krewe Morpheus, with more than 500 figures (February 13), while the decidedly more Celtic airs are of the Druids (February 11). In addition to historical re-enactments, there is also space for krewe inspired by different values, such as the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale (February 8) founded to foster the friendship of the components.

Although there are also parades in January, the climax of the celebrations is from 6 to 8 and from 11 to 17 February.

In addition to observing and admiring the parades, for the spectators Mardi Gras also means dressing up and spending a day in joy (many organize themselves for a pleasant picnic), without forgetting to carve out some time to visit the attractions connected to the Carnival, such as the Louisiana State Museum or the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum.

So, for the next Carnival, immerse yourself in the party atmosphere of New Orleans where the watchword is joy and fun, the right ingredients for an unforgettable Mardi Gras!

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