Who’s ready for beads, booze and boobs?! Mardi Gras is almost upon us and it’s time to don Carnival masks and body paint to partake in one of the most festive celebrations of the year.
For those who don’t know, Mardi Gras (aka Shove Tuesday, aka Fat Tuesday) is a celebration of a Christian feast day known as the Epiphany (aka Three Kings Day). However, over the years Mardi Gras has taken on a persona all its own, especially in the US city of New Orleans, Louisiana where massive Mardi Gras parades of legendary proportions have taken place since 1837. Each year people flock in droves, selling out hotels and resorts throughout New Orleans often months in advance, in order to be part of the festivities.
There are three major iconic pieces of imagery that denote all things Mardi Gras: Carnival masks, beads, and famous New Orleans parade street names like Bourbon St. You’ll see all three featured in the gallery pictures below, and anyone who knows the least bit about Mardi Gras will instantly recognize the meaning behind each tattoo.
Mardi Gras acts as a Purge of sorts, giving Christians a day to wholeheartedly indulge in “naughty” behavior before Lent, a six week long period of fasting and atonement for past sins, begins. Flashing for beads is by far the most well-known of naughty Mardi Gras traditions. The purple, gold and green beads represent royalty, power and faith. The tradition of beads started back in 1872, but flashing for beads didn’t really begin until the 1970s. (Go figure, right?) Although the New Orleans locals still don’t recognize it as a tradition so don’t expect everyone to take part.
Mardi Gras tattoos tend to be colorful and quite tasteful given the historic significance of the subject matter they represent. If you ever find yourself in a Mardi Gras parade, you might want to consider commemorating the event with a purple, gold and green tattoo of your own.
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