Why Do We Throw Beads At Mardi Gras?
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 ehow.com, 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.