Carnival Season

9 Jan

I never had much interest in Mardi Gras, really. I envisioned what I think a lot of people do: drunk people on Bourbon Street. So, yuck. But before I moved here, without realizing it, I planned a trip to visit my friend and it turned out to be over Mardi Gras. I wanted to change the timing, but my work schedule wouldn’t allow it, and so Mardi Gras it was.

We walked with the Krewe of Saint Anne on that visit, and I became a convert. To me, Saint Anne is like a great, moving street party. Like this website about the history of Saint Anne says, there are no spectators, only participants. Costuming and walking with Saint Anne is still my favorite way to spend the day of Mardi Gras. Get up early, put on your costume, have a cocktail and start walking!

When I first moved to New Orleans, I lived Uptown. It was then that I really realized the joys of the smaller (but still big) parades in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras weekend. I could walk to the parade route, meet up with friends at the big tree, have a couple beers, catch some throws, then walk on home. Just the evening’s entertainment. Just what you do in Carnival Season.

The weeks-long season lends itself to a sort of casual aspect that I love. I get excited, for sure, but it also feels like a part of life. There are a few parades that I hate to miss, but I also get happy when I start seeing king cakes in the store and green, purple and gold decorations all around. When I think about living other places (which I do, sometimes a lot) I can’t imagine what life would be like without Carnival Season. I think I’d be in a funk this time of year anywhere else.

In 2011, we are having one of the longest seasons possible. This article explains it, but basically, the beginning of Carnival season is Twelfth Night, January 6, and the date of Mardi Gras is determined by counting back from Easter. The latest it can be is March 9, and it’s March 8 this year. I like it like this, as it gives me a bit of downtime after the holidays. So not only am I more in the mood for festivities by the time Carnival comes, it also gives me more time to work on a costume.

This year, I will blog about my costume, king cakes, my favorite parades, marching bands, and other Carnival stuff. And I need to figure out my costume inspiration soon! I found a partial bolt of chartreuse velvet today, so I may see where that takes me…

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