Here’s what you need to know about common Mardi Gras traditions


Angelo Imbraguglio

The Krewe of Muses is an all-female krewe well known for their high heel throws. The Krewe of Muses was established in 2001 and rolled on Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Photo credit: Angelo Imbraguglio

Emma Gilheany

As I am sure you can tell by the purple, green and gold everywhere, Mardi Gras season has arrived. This may be your first experience with Mardi Gras, or maybe you are a seasoned parade goer with strong opinions about the neutral ground side versus sidewalk side. As a New Orleans local and an avid parade goer, I’m here to share some tips for the Mardi Gras season, as well as give explanations for some traditions that may seem a little odd to those not from here.

One of the best ways to get prepared for Mardi Gras is to eat a lot of king cake. King cake, a cinnamon pastry, is a Mardi Gras tradition that is popular throughout the season. Inside each king cake is a small plastic baby, which represents baby Jesus. The tradition is that whoever gets the piece of king cake with the baby is supposed to bring a king cake to the next party or gathering. Many locals have strong opinions about where to get the best king cake, varying from Randazzo’s to Haydel’s to Rouse’s (I would recommend either Dong Phuong, Caluda’s or Marguerite’s). Though many may disagree about which king cake is best, few would say that it’s not an essential part of Mardi Gras.

One of the most important tips I can give with regards to Mardi Gras is the importance of picking one’s spot to watch the parades, a simple but essential part of Mardi Gras. First, there is the timeless debate of neutral ground side versus sidewalk side. For those who don’t know, the neutral ground is what the median is called in New Orleans. Watching the parade from either of these sides is quite different. Try out both at different parades and see what you prefer. However, as someone who definitely prefers the smaller groups that tend to be on the sidewalk side, I can’t help but recommend the sidewalk side as the better choice.

Mardi Gras is tons of fun, and if you have never experienced it before you are in for quite the treat. There is nothing quite like finally catching that coveted Muses shoe you’ve tried to catch for years.

Lauren LeCompte, mass communication sophomore, said, “Last year was my first time going to Muses, but I didn’t catch any shoes. But I’m confident that this is my year.”

Many parades have highly coveted, unique throws that are individual to that parade. Look out for Muses shoes, Zulu coconuts and Tucks toilet brushes, as these are just a few examples of big throws. These throws have become Mardi Gras traditions as people have proudly shown off their hauls.

However you choose to spend your Mardi Gras, I hope you enjoy this New Orleans holiday and all of the quirky traditions it has to offer.