Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday, is celebrated before the Christian season of Lent. The Mardi Gras itself falls on the Shrove Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday but actually begins on the Feast of the Epiphany or the Twelfth Night.  

Streets of French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana decorated for Mardi Gras | Source: AS

Mardi Gras in the United States originated when French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville arrived in present-day Mobile, Alabama on Fat Tuesday in 1699 and named the settlement Point du Mardi Gras. The French would feast on the holiday in preparation for several weeks of fasting. The carnival began to spread to other parts of the country, including New Orleans in the mid-19th century. However around the world similar celebrations occur, such as the world famous Brazilian carnaval.

Brazilian Carnaval Celebrations| Source: AS

However, behind the colorful parades and festive atmosphere, Mardi Gras has a history of suppression and exclusion. For many years, certain groups of people were prevented from participating in the celebrations due to their race, ethnicity, or social status. 

Costumes For Mardi Gras  

At present, you celebrate Mardi Gras with parades and parties. It also reminds us of elaborate costumes, just like this most recent version of the Indonesia 100,000 Rupiah Banknote that displays a Tari Topeng Betawi or a dancer with a mask on its reverse. The Betawi people of Indonesia believed that mask or topeng possesses magical powers. On the obverse of the banknote is first vice-president Mohammad Hatta and first president Sukarno.  

Indonesia 100,000 Rupiah | 2022 | Source: Banknote World

The reverse of the Trinidad & Tobago 50 Dollars polymer banknote from 2015 highlights a female masquerader wearing a carnival costume. Along with a red-capped cardinal bird along with the Eric Williams Financial Complex in Port of Spain. On its front design a red hibiscus, the national arms, and a red-capped cardinal bird. 

Trinidad & Tobago 50 Dollars Banknote, 2015 | Source: Banknote World

Lesser Known Information

Gold, purple, and green are the traditional colors that many associate with Mardi Gras. Some believe that when Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov visited New Orleans in 1972, he gave beads to merrymakers in purple, green, and gold – the colors of his home. Thus, these colors which symbolize justice, power, and faith, honor the grand duke. 

Rise and Fall of the House of Romanov: 6-Coin Boxed Collection | Source: Banknote World

This Rise and Fall of the House of Romanov: 6-Coin Boxed Collection contains 6 coins from the reign of the Romanovs. Featured personalities on these coins are Peter I, Tsar Michael I, Nicholas II, Elizabeth, Alexander I, and Alexis 

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