17 January 2014

King Day

In my house, January 6th marks the official end of the Christmas season.
The Feast of the Epiphany.... The Feast of the Three Kings... Twelfth Night...

In New Orleans, it's called 'King Day' and marks the start of Mardi Gras.

Everywhere you look, year round, there are shops, market stalls and specialty shops with the most beautiful masks for sale. These will be worn to balls, masques, and parades throughout the eight weeks of Mardi Gras.

Adding to the frivolity, each street corner plays host to talented mimes,
defying interruption or distration...

... their only movements a slight bow of the head
or a subtle change of position if you put a donation in their basket.
Parades are apt to occur at a moment's notice, taking you by surprise.
If you have an umbrella handy you can join the second-liners,
following the band down the road and waving a handkerchief over your head. 

 Even statues might find themselves draped in beads.

But it's the masks I love.

Many are the traditional Green, Purple and Gold of Mardi Gras....

...some with sequins, brocade, tri-cornered hats or Jester's bells.

Although the less colorful masks are my favorite.
Elegant ivory with burnished Gold and bits of antiqued decoupage.

The more elaborate they are, the more dear in price.
(And the more difficult to transport home!)

My own mask is a combination of jewel tones,
feathers, and a tiny bit of decoupage on the cheeks.

"New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras for hundreds of years, and is the largest masked party in North America. In the beginning, masks worn during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints. When wearing a mask, carnival goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired to mingle with. However, they were also considered to be a diversion for poor people, and women who wore masks had their reputation questioned. Today, everyone wears masks during Mardi Gras. In fact, float riders are required to wear masks by law." 
— MardiGrasNewOrleans.com

Laissez les bon temps rouler!


  1. I take down my Christmas decorations on the Feast of the Epiphany too - always with some sadness as it is my favorite season of the year - the house seems to come alive over those weeks of advent and Christmas!

    Oh the masks are such works of art - reminding me of Venice and the exquisite specialty shops selling only masks and similar regalia.
    Your New Orleans Mardi Gras looks like a grand occasion with much tradition - I'm sure it was a fun experience.
    I would love to have brought a mask home from Venice - way too pricey so I left it in the shop - reluctantly!

    1. Venice is on my wish list, Shane! And yes, most of the masks are extremely pricey.. I was lucky to find a small one I could afford. I've never stayed in New Orleans during the final days of Mardi Gras.... it's a bit too rambunctious for me and too full of tourists. I tend to visit in October and November, or in January, when the season is only just starting. I was sad at first to remove the Christmas decorations, but I'm enthusiastic now about the New Year and having the house more empty!