I meant to post about Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) yesterday, seeing as yesterday was Mardi Gras. But I was busy with other things, and I am very behind on my blog….
So, today is Ash Wednesday, and I decided I will post both about Mardi Gras and Carnival and Ash Wednesday all together today.
Ash Wednesday, as you probably know, is the first day of the season of Lent – the time of prayer and penance before Easter in some Christian communities. The name comes from the fact that worshipers have a cross of ashes placed on their forehead during services today. The ashes come from the remains of the previous years blessed palms (from Palm Sunday), which are burnt and made into a paste, which is then applied, along with a blessing, to the foreheads of the faithful.
Electronics Tech 3rd Class Leila Tardieu receives ashes during Ash Wednesday services aboard the USS Wasp, 6 Feb. 2008. Photo by Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian May. US Navy Photo ID 080206-N-7869M-057. Public domain.
Ash Wednesday cross. Photo by Jennifer Balaska, 22 Feb 2012. Released into Public Domain by author, from Wikimedia Commons.
Detail of the watercolor painting ‘Ash Wednesday’, by Julian Falat (1853-1929), 1881. From Wikimedia Commons.
Ash Wednesday is, of course, proceeded by the rather wild celebration of Carnival, which culminates in Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday. From the Middle Ages on, Carnival was both a way of having a bit of fun before the solemn season of Lent began, and an opportunity for social commentary. This is still seen in modern times, when Carnival / Mardi Gras floats often satirize current political events and leaders. Of course, many Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans are simply rolling fantasies – as each “Krewe” presents a themed parade.
A group of masked revelers on Frenchman St, New Orleans, LA. Photo by John N. Teunisson, published 9 Feb 1910 in the New Orleans Times-Democrat. From Wikimedia Commons.
Composite photo of various masked Mardi Gras revelers, New Orleans, LA, published 9 Feb 1910 in the New Orleans Times-Democrat. From Wikimedia Commons.
Bulletin showing the Mardi Gras floats of the Krewe Rex, New Orleans, 1913. From Wikimedia Commons
Float with a Robin Hood theme from the Krewe of Proteus parade, New Orleans, LA, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.
Float depicting Pinocchio, from the Krewe of Momus Mardi Gras parade, which had a theme of “Fairy Tales”, New Orleans, LA, 1916. From Wikipedia Commons.
Float from the Krewe of Comus Mardi Gras parade, New Orleans, LA, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.
Design for a Mystick Krewe of Comus float in the shape of a giant frog, New Orleans, 1912. From Wikimedia Commons.
Many of the Krewes are also social clubs and masked balls are also a part of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans. These balls are by invitation only, unlike the parades and the general street festival. Most balls traditionally include a “King” and a “Queen” and their “Court”. All participants are, as a rule, masked at the balls. Not all of the Krewes which present balls present parades, and some balls, like that of the Krewe of Olympians, also serve to present debutantes, who serve as the “Queen” or maids in the “Court”.
Invitation to the ball of the Krewe of Olympians, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.
Card required for entrance to the Krewe of Olympians ball, 1917. From Wikimedia Commons.
Dance card from the Krewe of Rex ball, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.
Invitation to the ball of the Mystick Krewe of Comus, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.
Invitation in the shape of a butterfly to the Twelfth Night Revelers ball, 1912. From Wikimedia Commons.
King, Queen, and Court in full regalia at the Krewe of Osiris ball, 22 Feb 1939. Photo by WPA photographer and public domain. From Wikimedia Commons.
Whew, this has been quite a long post, but I am giving you all the Mardi Gras images I meant to give you in the last two weeks all at once today! One last image for you:
Le Bal Masqué (The Masked Ball), by Albert Lynch (1851-1912). From Wikimedia Commons.
As always, click on image to see it / download it full-sized.
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