Mardi Gras in New Orleans

If you would like to access the first part of this audio in which we talk about the common English expression Up One’s Alley, click here.


"A lot of our visitors come here thinking Mardi Gras is one day full of parades down Bourbon Street. And it’s true that on Mardi Gras you can find huge parties on Bourbon Street with people wearing costumes and throwing beads, the thing is, that’s any day on Bourbon Street. The difference is that on Mardi Gras, the crowd is waiting for a parade that’s never going to come. Most parades never enter the French Quarter.

Also, most of them are family friendly and most of them don’t happen on Mardi Gras Day. We have dozens of parades over several weeks leading up to the big day."

Free Tour by Foot – New Orleans (watch video here)


Hey, guys. Welcome back to this week’s episode. This is the second part of episode number 139, and today, we’ll be talking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, which is in full effect as I speak. It’s happening right now.

The introduction to this episode was taken from a video titled "New Orleans Tourist Traps and Things to Avoid." It was recorded by Free Tours By Foot, and I highly recommend watching it if you plan on visiting the city. It’s a phenomenal video about how to take advantage of the culture in New Orleans and yeah, it’s great to watch. I’ll post the link for you in the transcript so that you can check it out.

We’ll start the lesson today by going through the history of Mardi Gras. It’s a massive celebration, so there are a lot of parts to this, but be sure to stay tuned towards the middle and the end if it’s an event that you’d like to visit. This is not an event for everybody. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but if it is up your alley, once again, stay tuned until the end.


What comes to mind when you think of the word carnival? If you’re Brazilian, you might think of Rio de Janeiro with their massive parades near the Copacabana. You might think of the costumes, usually they’re ornate, they’re very decorated with sequins, and sometimes they wear feathered hats. Perhaps you think of samba schools.

If you ask an American the same question, "What comes to mind when you hear the word carnival?" It may cause some confusion at first. A carnival to someone in the United States is a traveling amusement park or circus. We understand the word Carnival, referring to the extravagant parties at the beginning of each year, you just need to provide some context so that we get what you’re talking about.

In the US, we commonly refer to what others call Carnival as Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period of time when many members of the Christian faith fast.

To fast is a verb that means to abstain from consuming something. It’s said that by Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent, you should eat up all of the fats in your house because when Lent starts, you’ll need to abstain from eating those fats, or those sweets and those meats; you’ll spend 40 days without that luxury.

In fact, the etymology of "carnival" is quite similar. The Britannica Encyclopedia says that carnival derives from carne levare in Latin, which means to remove or take away meat.


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