‘Throw me some beads, sir,’ Mardi Gras is coming!

HONOLULU (KHON2) — “Throw me some beads, sir,” is a common request anyone attending Mardi Gras on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama will hear.

Mardi Gras, simply put, is French for Fat Tuesday. But, Fat Tuesday is just one day in a much longer season, known as Carnival season.

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This year, the Carnival began on January 6 and will end at 11:59 pm on Fat Tuesday, February 21. Carnival is a Catholic tradition that has permeated entire cultures around the world. It is a time period of decadence and debauchery before Lent begins.

It all starts 12 days after Christmas and runs through Fat Tuesday, and Fat Tuesday is always 47 days before Easter begins. So, that period of time is the Carnival season.

During this time, families spend time together at parades, parties, and gatherings. A popular item that is traded during the season is the king cake.

Originally known as a Twelfth Night cake, those who observe Carnival will put a small plastic baby inside the cake. And, whoever receives the baby when the cake is cut is responsible for hosting the next party.

King cakes are a delicious cinnamon roll-like dessert that’s covered in purple, green, and gold frosting and filled with all sorts of goodies, like cheesecakes or custards. Some people will also add doubloons and beads to help make the presentation more festive.

Fortunately for everyone who lives on O’ahu, Whole Foods, located on Waialae Avenue in Kahala, will be offering king cakes this Carnival season, according to the store’s general manager.

Purple, green and gold are very important colors for Mardi Gras. Purple represents justice. Green represents faith. Gold represents power. Everything during this season is purple, green and gold.

Also, during this time there are lots and lots of parades. Each parade is sponsored by what are known as Krewes. These Krewes are social clubs that come together to provide memorable celebrations.

Some of the really well known New Orleans Krewes are Endymion, Zulu, Rex, Bacchus, and Isis, just to name a few.

Now for the statement about a gentleman throwing away more beads. During these parades, the Krewes throw all kinds of gifts at the revelers. Of course, you’ve probably heard of Mardi Gras beads. These range from tiny and really cheap plastic beads to elaborate and decorative beads. [i.e. a plastic necklace with rubber duckies attached]. The bigger your accounts, the better you’ve done.

Zulu is known for throwing coconuts into the crowd, and these coconuts have been known to fetch hundreds of dollars on online auction sites.

Costumes are another part of Mardi Gras. Families will dress up, usually following the parade theme of the day.

It goes without saying that children love the carnival season. Keep in mind that Bourbon Street is really the only place where there are no family Mardi Gras celebrations. Carnival is all about decadence, but it’s also family-oriented.

Since Hurricane Katrina, there is a larger population that has moved from New Orleans to Honolulu. But bringing Carnival with them hasn’t been an easy task. There are no parades and local schools don’t have Mardi Gras holidays.

But Carnival is in the heart and soul. It’s something that stays with you no matter where you go.

The day after Mardi Gras is known as Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of Lent when there is no decadence or debauchery.

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So in the meantime, celebrate Carnival with a king cake party and laissez le bon temps rouler, y’all!

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