Tag Archives: carnival

Muses Decorated Heels

Main Piece:

According to EG, a resident of New Orleans, Muses is one of the first all female parades in Mardi Gras. To set it apart from the other parades they started throwing decorated heels. Each rider decorates their own shoes and put their spin on them, with glitter, writing, and designs. It turns into a pretty sculpture of a shoe. Each rider decorates 10-12 shoes and throws them off of their float during the parade. She has caught 3 shoes in her time at Mardi Gras and she considers it a symbol of New Orleans Mardi Gras. Because of muses other parades have started to throw other items like it. Other parades like the Krewe of Tucks and the Krewe of Nyx throw decorated toilet plungers and purses respectively.

Context:

EG is a college aged resident of New Orleans. She was born there and has lived there her entire life. This was collected in a conversation at my home. She has been to Mardi Gras every year since her birth and considers it to be a central part of her life.

Thoughts:

I, also being a resident from New Orleans, understand this piece of folklore very well. The heels thrown from the float are a sub-genre of what is know as throws, or things float riders throw off a float during a parade. Beads and Doubloons are what people mainly consider as Mardi Gras throws, but there are many more. Cups, spears, and as EG mentioned, heels and other decorated items are all throws that separate one parade from another. I think the main reason for these throws is that each has a distinct item that not only tells a story of the rider and the parade, but something you can only get if you participate in or go to the parade during the season.

New Orleans King Cake

Main Piece:

EG, a resident of New Orleans, if very fond of the Mardi Gras season and the treats that come during it. One of these is King Cake. King Cakes originate in France as a cake to eat during Carnival season. It is a sweetcake covered in sugar and icing. A tradition for carnival season. They begin selling them on Twelfth Night, January 6th, and stop on Mardi Gras day. Some stores sell them any time of the year but not as a true “king cake”. A Baby is inside of the king cake. In many traditions if you get the baby you must buy the next king cake. In school every Friday one person would bring a king cake and the next week another person would have to get the king cake. 

Context:

EG is a college aged resident of New Orleans. She was born there and has lived there her entire life. This was collected in a conversation at my home. She has been to Mardi Gras every year since her birth and considers it to be a central part of her life.

Thoughts:

I enjoy the history and idea of king cake not just as a New Orleanian who likes the food, but as a tradition. The whole idea to me is that we eat this super unhealthy food so much during this carnival season as last hurrah before Lent begins right after Fat Tuesday. The baby being inside of the cake as a reward is very interesting. I like the tradition of having the recipient of the baby bring the king cake the next week. The wide variety of them in New Orleans also would mean that different people would bring in different king cakes which would give everyone in her class a different experience each time they eat it.

Mardi Gras Ladders

Main Piece:

Mardi Gras ladders are used during Mardi Gras each year. They are used to put children higher up in the air to see the parade and to keep them safe from going in the street. Usually decorated in purple, green, and gold with a family’s name. They are on a ladder so that kids can see a float. Wheels are on the sides to help them roll easier from the car to parade route. On top of the ladders are seats which children sit in and they usually have a bar on the front to keep the kids from falling. Cup holders are put on the side for a parents’s drinks. They are put 6 feet away from the curb on the sidewalk or neutral ground, all painted differently. Families tend to put their ladders in certain spots next to each other forming a long row of ladders.

Context:

SG is my mother and has been to Mardi Gras with kids since I was born. She is from New Orleans and attends every year. This was taken during a conversation with her in our backyard while reminiscing Mardi Gras. She still brings ladders out each year for her younger children.

Thoughts:

I like this piece of folklore a lot as it brings me back to when I was much younger attending Mardi Gras. When I only went with my parents and not friends, my mom would put me in a ladder with my twin sister as we shouted at the float riders to throw us beads and other items. The uniqueness of these ladders is very important to me as I had the opportunity to decorate the newest ladder that we use for my little brothers. We painted it purple, green, and gold, while also putting our hand prints on it. This is something I had grown up with and realized how specific a ladder with a seat on it like this is to New Orleans and that you rarely see it elsewhere.