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Mardi Gras Speak - The Vocabulary of Mardi Gras

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Kids Mardi Gras

A Mardi Gras Float

(c) 2005 Sharon Keating

Mardi Gras is not only a unique party, it has a unique language. Here are some terms you need to know.

A "throw" is a bauble tossed from the float to the onlookers who yell "Throw me something, Mister!" Doubloons, cups, and beads are the most popular "throws." A "doubloon" is an aluminum "coin" embossed with the insignia of the parade krewe on one side and the theme of the parade on the other.

The"krewe" is the Carnival organization staging the parade, and the "Carnival Ball" is an elaborate formal event including the krewe members and their special guests. An invited lady may get a "call out" to dance with a krewe member. The "Captain" is the absolute leader of the krewe and his/her identity is a secret

The "flambeaux" are torches that were commonly used before the advent of electric street lights, and are still carried in many of the more traditional parades. (Coins are usually tossed at the flambeaux carriers.) "Lundi Gras" is the day before Mardi Gras when Kings "Rex" and "Zulu" arrive in New Orleans via steamboat.

A "Second Line" is a street dance performed with handkerchiefs and umbrellas by anyone who can walk behind the leader. Popular at Mardi Gras, this dance is also performed at jazz funerals, weddings, or any festive occasion.

To light the parades in the 1800's men would carry torches. These flambeaux can still be seen in some parades, even those with fiber optics. It was customary to throw coins at the flambaux in the early days.

The "Boeuf Gras", a French word for fatted bull, symbolizes the last meat eaten before the beginning of lent, the day after Mardi Gras. There is always a "Boeuf Gras" riding in the front of the Rex parade.

Now you can speak Mardi Gras with the natives!

For speaking New Orleans on occasions you need another lesson.

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