The festival began in the 1st century, known in Rome as Fat Tuesday. The day was set aside for hedonistic feasting before the fasting and penitence of Ash Wednesday and the Christian Lenten season. The tradition spread across Europe and became Mardi Gras in France. When the French explorer Bienville landed in North America, he established “Pointe du Mardi Gras” as well as several other French settlements, on the land that would become Louisiana and Alabama. French settlers immediately began Mardi Gras observances, such as masquerade balls and lavish dinners. Within 150 years, the celebrations grew to include night time parades illuminated by torches, revelers in masks and costumes, and marching bands.
Did You Know? A secret society of businessmen formed the first anonymous “krewe”, and to this day those secret organizations (more like social clubs) still run the New Orleans festivities.
Having a Mardi Gras Party? The expert floral designers at Walter Knoll Florist are ready to provide you with beautiful decor, designed in the official gold, purple and green of Mardi Gras.
Saint Louis is said to have the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, second only to New Orleans. Soulard is the historic French neighborhood that hosts many of these festive traditions. Soulard is largely residential, with plenty of restaurants and bars – and the North American headquarters of Anheuser-Busch. The bars host blues and jazz bands, primarily, and pub crawls are commonplace. Soulard is the location of the St. Louis Mardi Gras festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of revelers to enjoy several parades, including “Krewe of Barkus”, a family-oriented pet parade, and the more traditional adult-only parade that takes place the Saturday evening before Fat Tuesday.
With so much Mardi Gras revelry, you may be inspired to host your own event. You’ll need the traditional beads and trinkets, elaborate and colorful masks, some tri-colored King Cake – and don’t forget the flowers! There is no more festive way to decorate than with an extravagant bouquet from Walter Knoll Florist, another Saint Louis tradition.