Mardi Gras, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday, is a Carnival celebration of food; a revelry before the first day of Lent; a final hurrah before forty days of fasting and abstinence—and boy, is it a wild festival in New Orleans. All in all, the festivities last two weeks, but culminate in bacchanalian parties and colorful parades during the five days surrounding Mardi Gras.
But how did this tradition come to be? And more importantly what do those beads stand for? The bead phenomena is a relatively new one considering that while the first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans occurred in the 1830s, it wasn’t until the Rex parade threw inexpensive handmade glass necklaces sometime in the 1920s that the tradition was born.