why do they throw beads at mardi gras

Why Do We Throw Beads At Mardi Gras? by February 12, 2018 3:14 PM
Mardi Gras in South Louisiana is kind of like breathing we just do it. There are so many historical traditions, we rarely think about the significance of what we re doing. Why do we even throw beads at Mardi Gras? According to, Mardi Gras started in Medieval Europe and eventually moved to New Orleans. In 1703, the small French-Canadian settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile held its first Mardi Gras celebration. The idea of float throws came about in the 1870s, started by the Twelfth Night Revelers in New Orleans. They were the first to start the tradition of throwing parade goers prizes.


It wasn t until the 1920 s that krewes began throwing necklaces made of small glass beads. Throwing the beads from the floats became such a huge hit, all krewes adopted the practice, and Mardi Gras has never been the same. But, is there a meaning behind the throwing of beads? Well, kind of. The colors of the beads hold more significance than the act of throwing them. The Purple represents justice, the Green symbolizes faith and the Gold exemplifies power. The action of throwing the beads to parade goers is really just a way to get people riled up.


I thought I would find that it signified the royal krewes passing magical power to those who caught beads, but nope. I guess it can be said that maybe it signifies the krewes granting of justice, faith and power to all who catch the beads. Yeah, let s go with that. Mardi Gras throws are strings of beads, cups, or other trinkets passed out or thrown from the floats in the, the and all throughout the, to spectators lining the streets. The "gaudy plastic jewelry, toys, and other mementos [are] tossed to the crowds from parading floats". Mardi Gras celebrations in other Gulf Coast cities, such as and, have adopted the custom. "The goodies, or 'throws,' consist of necklaces of plastic beads, coins called doubloons, which are stamped with ' logos, parade themes and the year, plus an array of plastic cups and toys such as or figurines".


The cups that are used as throws are sometimes referred to as New Orleans dinnerware. Beads used on Mardis Gras (known as in some regions) are gold, purple and green, with these three colors containing the of power, justice and faith, respectively. Traditionally, Mardis Gras beads were manufactured in and, although many are now imported from mainland China.


As Fat Tuesday concludes the period of Carnival ( ), Mardis Gras beads are taken off oneself on the following day, which begins the penitential season of. As such, one of the "solemn practices of Ash Wednesday is to pack all the beads acquired during the parade season into bags and boxes and taken them to the attic". Spectators have traditionally shouted to the krewe members, "Throw me something, mister! ", a phrase that is iconic in New Orleans' Mardi Gras street argot. Some women expose their breasts to invite throws. Some krewes have specialty throws; for example, the or the shoes and mirrors.

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