More Than Just Color Beads: What is Mardi Gras?

  • BY Steve Gamel
  • January 20, 2020
By Steve Gamel

Everyone has heard of Mardi Gras, which this year falls on February 25. It’s that fun time of the year when people line the streets of New Orleans for a seemingly unending stream of parties, parades, food, drinks, camaraderie, and beads. Oooh — it’s all about the beads! The best part is that Mardi Gras isn’t just for natives of New Orleans. People from all over the world host and attend Mardi Gras events, including plenty right here in Denton County.

But while Mardi Gras truly is a global phenomenon that you don’t want to miss, what most people forget is its rich history and the real reason it exists. And trust us, it’s not because of the beads.


  • Mardi-Gras-Dog-InteriorMardi Gras is known as Fat Tuesday. It happens on the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, signifying that it’s time to have one last night of bad food and celebration before fasting
  • Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day
  • The first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade was in 1837
  • Beads (purple, gold, and green) have been a Mardi Gras staple since around the early 1900s and are tossed at spectators during parades and other events
  • Green beads signify faith. Purple represents justice, and gold indicates power
  • Mardi Gras is actually a state holiday in Alabama, Florida, and parts of Louisiana
  • Surprisingly, it is illegal to ride a float during Mardi Gras without wearing a mask

If you’re looking to celebrate close to home while still feeling like you are in New Orleans, Lake Dallas will hold its 15th annual festival and parade on Main Street. The exact date for that event hadn’t been released as of press time, so be sure to check with city officials for more details. Not only is this the largest and possibly only Mardi Gras parade in Denton County, but it also gives you a chance to visit with your neighbors, stroll the vendor market, and check out all the entries in the Mask Contest. Like last year, there may also be another crawfish eating contest.

If you can’t make it out to Lake Dallas, various restaurants throughout Denton County will likely have drink and dinner specials on Fat Tuesday. Check with your area for more details.

Connect with us next month on social media and share your favorite Mardi Gras photos. Who knows? You may see them in the pages of a future magazine.

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