Tuesday, February 16

Happy Mardi Gras!

Though we did not grow up on the Gulf Coast, my mom made sure that we always celebrated Mardi Gras. As a native of Mobile, Alabama, home of America's first Mardi Gras, she turned Fat Tuesday into a colorful celebration in our house. We may not have had parades to go to in North Carolina, but we did have king cakes, beads, parties and masks!

As a kid, I thought Mardi Gras masks were the best part of the celebration. I still love them, and how couldn't I? They are beautiful works of art:

Masks got their start in Venice, Italy more than 800 years ago. At the time, Venice was kind of the Las Vegas of Europe. High rolling importers and traders partied wildly and used masks as a means to keep their less than dignified behavior a secret. Masks also provided a simple way to bring equality to the upper and lower classes of Venetian society. With their identities hidden behind colorful masks, it was impossible to tell a master from his servant!

Masks are now worn by Mardi Gras Krewe members who throw beads and trinkets off of floats during parades. Krewe members keep their identities secret until they get to their Krewe's ball, where they can take the masks off in certain locations to party with their guests.

Venice Float with bead throwing Krewe members
Krewe of Columbus Parade
Mobile, Alabama

Mardi Gras masks range in quality and price and genuine artisan made Venetian masks can cost hundreds of dollars. If a pricey venetian mask isn't in your budget, big Gulf Coast based Mardi Gras stores such as Accent Annex offer a beautiful selection of feathered and sequined masks at very affordable prices!

Happy Mardi Gras!

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