Carvival (from Latin carnivale)– translated to be farewell to the flesh (the feast of Epiphany) to midnight on (Shrove) Fat Tuesday (the day before Lent). The party season before Mardi Gras, starts on January 6 (the Twelfth Night). Celebrated with Kingcakes at Mardi Gras parties.
FUTURE DATES OF MARDI GRAS
When you're ready for the big experience, you'll need to know when it will be!
You will find the big day can fall on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9.
How will you know which Tuesday it will be? Ash Wednesday is always 40 days before Easter (not including Sundays) and Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25 with the exact date to coincide with the first Sunday after the full moon following a Spring Equinox!
There you have it! Voila!
If you are still confused, get out that calendar with the printed Holidays on it---it is the day before Ash Wednesday!
• 2011, March 8
• 2012, February 21
• 2013, February 12
• 2014, March 4
• 2015, February 17
• 2016, February 9
• 2017, February 28
• 2018, February 13
• 2019, March 5
• 2020, February 25
• 2021, February 16
Throughout the parade, masked riders stand atop two and three tiered papier-mache, tractor-towed constructions from which they throw plastic cups, panties, and beads, as well as metal doubloons inscribed with the logo of the krewe, to the eager crowd. The riders often spend over $1,000. on their individual stock of "throws" to give out during the parade.
In the early days of the festivities, merry-makers used to carry bags of flour that they would throw at each other. When a mischievous few mixed pepper with their flour, the practice had to be discontinued and safer things thrown. These days, the typical throws are beads, "doubloons" (fake coins), and, in recent years, Zapp's potato chips, which come packaged in Carnival colors. Probably the most valued throws are the hand-painted coconuts tossed by the krewe of Zulu. Onlookers vie energetically - sometimes boldly - to catch the most "stuff". In recent years, it's become more commonplace for women to expose their breasts than to shout the conventional phrase, "Throw me something Mister!" in return for a long strand of faux pearls. Be warned - many an ordinarily gentle, little old sterling-headed grandmother will stomp your knuckles bloody for that aluminum doubloon, and that bamboo and rubber spear. Most important, never ever put your hand on the ground to pick up anything! If you want those beads or that doubloon, put your foot on it and don't lift your toe until you have it firmly in your hands.
Other tips for catching favors include taking a nun in habit with you, and standing under a street lamp: she'll be a favorite target for the good Catholics on the floats. Or make a posterboard sign that says "John" and hold it up at each float, figuring that there must be at least one guy named John on every float. Or cut a large bleach bottle in half and attach the spout to a broom handle so that you have a handy tool to hold up to the riders. Another version of this is to turn an umbrella inside out and hold it up to the riders. Some parade goers with kids use a special 8 to 10 foot ladder fixed with a bench at the top for the little ones, while parents stand below balancing them. These pre-made parade ladders can be bought at many local hardware stores and cost about $60. Ladders should not be hooked together, placed at intersections or against barricades, or left unattended - or the police will confiscate them.
Those who live within walking distance from the parade routes sometimes joke that "Mardi Gras" must be an old Creole expression meaning, "May I use your bathroom?" Nowadays the city puts out a lot of Port-O-Lets, and restaurants and bars will let their patrons avail themselves of the facilities. Those groups who have large packs of newly toilet-trained kids or big drinkers in their party might consider renting a hotel room on the route.
The estimated size of the Mardi Gras crowd is based on the amount of trash generated. A good crowd is one that has produced 2,000 or more tons of refuse. Each parade is followed by the Sanitation Department with its street sweepers, water and brush trucks, and blowers. Watching them is almost as much fun as watching the parade.