Famously held in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is a carnival period with flamboyant parades and activities that take place before somber Ash Wednesday. The literal translation of Mardi Gras from French to English is "Fat Tuesday", which is appropriate since Mardi Gras is filled with excess and exaggeration. However, just because you're not in New Orleans, you can still celebrate Mardi Gras. Not sure what to wear? Mardi Gras costume parties have proven that anything goes, but there are a few details that maintain the character of Mardi Gras.
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Mardi Gras Staples
Consider the traditional Mardi Gras colors when creating your outfit. Purple, green, and gold are the key colors for the holiday. Purple symbolizes justice, green means faith and gold is power. Mardi Gras also retains influences from French masquerade balls; therefore, masks with feathers are another common accessory. The mask is so important that during Mardi Gras that masks are legal and, by law, must be worn by all float riders. Beads are also another popular accessory. In New Orleans, beads are one of the trinkets for the "throw" tradition. In Mardi Gras, "throws" are cheap trinkets that are typically tossed from floats to the general public. Glass beads were the original throws and but they have since been replaced by plastic beads, coins and more.
Wear a full out costume if you want to make an even louder statement. All kinds of costumes are acceptable during Mardi Gras, even costumes that aren't at all related to the holiday. Costume contests bring out the most original ideas; however, there are certain elements that remain particularly close to the history and culture of Mardi Gras. Popular traditional costumes include the pirate, the court jester, the masked and caped courtier, French royalty and show girls.