Internet InfoMedia on this day in history february 27 1827 new orleans celebrates mardi gras for first time

The people of New Orleans took to the streets to celebrate Mardi Gras for the first time on this day in history, Feb. 27, 1827. 

“A group of students in masks and costumes paraded through the streets, partying and dancing,” reports National Geographic about the origins of the festival in New Orleans. 

The Crescent City is globally associated with the Roman Catholic festival today. 

Yet it was actually celebrated for the first time in American 124 years earlier in Mobile, Alabama

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The celebratory excess of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French) is followed by Ash Wednesday, a solemn day in Christian tradition. It begins six weeks of Lent, preparation to mark the crucifixion and then, on Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Christ.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is rooted, like many other Christian traditions, in seasonal pagan rituals, flavored by the uniquely rich cultural stew that shapes the city today. 

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

The 2023 Krewe of Proteus parade took place on Feb. 20, 2023, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

Lupercalia, a hedonistic celebration held each February in Ancient Rome, is one of the traditions adopted by Christians that shape Mardi Gras, according to various sources. 

Mardi Gras after 1827 quickly grew into a more formal event, one now deeply embedded in New Orleans culture.

“The celebratory excess of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is followed by Ash Wednesday, a solemn day in Christian tradition.” 

“The parties grew more and more popular, and in 1833 a rich plantation owner named Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville raised money to fund an official Mardi Gras celebration,” says Hiistory.com. 

“After rowdy revelers began to get violent during the 1850s, a secret society called the Mistick Krewe of Comus staged the first large-scale, well-organized Mardi Gras parade in 1857.”

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Krewes — social clubs common in communities around the Gulf of Mexico — continue to organize and define Mardi Gras today. 

The krewes of Tampa, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, are responsible for that city’s 119-year-old pirate-themed Gasparilla festival, held each year, also in late winter. 

2019 Mardi Gras

Members of the Krewe of Rex King of Carnival parade down St. Charles Avenue Mardi Gras Day on March 5, 2019, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“Comus is recognized as the oldest continuously operating Carnival krewe in New Orleans, although it stopped parading rather than submit to a 1991 City Council ordinance requiring parading organizations to certify they did not discriminate in choosing members,” the Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported in 2017. 

“The krewe continues to hold a ball on Mardi Gras night, and Comus, Rex and their consorts meet there each year to declare the end of Carnival.”

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Several sources, including the official website of Mardi Gras New Orleans, tip their cap to nearby Mobile, Alabama, for the honor of the nation’s first Mardi Gras. 

“On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans, and named it “Pointe du Mardi Gras” when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday,” writes MardiGrasNewOrleans.com, the city’s official festival website.

“Mardi Gras originated in 1703 right here in our port city.” – VisitMobile.com. 

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