"Mardi Gras" is a French term that translates to "Fat Tuesday." Mardi Gras is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar. Because Ash Wednesday begins the period of Lent (during which many people give up certain foods), Mardi Gras is often celebrated by eating lush meals and partying in anticipation of the leaner meals later. Various cultures have developed different traditions and, for many, costumes are an integral part of the celebration.
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When designing a homemade Mardi Gras costume, use the traditional colors of the celebration. That means it's great to use a lot of purple (said to represent justice), green (for faith) or gold (for power). Pick out fabrics in those colors when making your costumes. While single colors can be done, a combination works better. Red is also commonly seen, but it's not an official Mardi Gras color. Whatever colors are used in designing the costume, bold is the real key. A Mardi Gras costume should be flashy and attention-grabbing.
Head Gear and Masks
In many ways, costuming for Mardi Gras is almost an "anything goes" approach. Feathered and brightly colored face masks are common. A simple eye mask from a costume store can be made into a Mardi Gras mask with glitter, paint and feathers glued to it. Jester crowns are also common and can be made from cardboard with similar features added. Jester hats (such as those Halloween stores carry) in Mardi Gras colors are commonly used, too. Even bold-colored cowboy (or other) hats can be worn.
Many Mardi Gras participants wear Halloween-style costumes. Certain types of costumes don't translate well to Mardi Gras, but costumes in the traditional colors are effective. Gold-colored aliens can be made at home with fabric, cardboard, makeup and a little imagination. Herman Munster or a lizard bring green to the proceedings and can generally be created with makeup and clothes found in your closet. When doing a Halloween-style costume, though, don't forget to add Mardi Gras accessories to bump the boldness factor up a notch.
Mardi Gras costumes are really about going the extra mile toward indulgence, so more accessories is the best approach. Beads in Mardi Gras and other colors are mandatory and often exchanged during the celebration. Strings of beads can be made at home in the appropriate colors. Scepters give a regal look. Wands in Mardi Gras colors also work well. Combining beads and feathers with the scepters and wands bring more to the costume. A walking stick could be turned into a staff with paint, feathers and beads.