Top 5 OUTRAGEOUS Mardi Gras Facts

VOICE OVER: Chris Masson
Written by Spencer Sher

From beads and masks to cake and booze – this holiday has got it all! Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we're counting down the Top 5 Facts about Mardi Gras.

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Top 5 Facts on Mardi Gras

From beads and masks to cake and booze – this holiday has got it all! Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this installment, we’re counting down the Top 5 Facts about Mardi Gras.

#5: King's Cake Is Eaten throughout Carnival Season

Mardi Gras, also known as “Fat Tuesday” and “Pancake Day”, always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday – the date signifying the beginning of Lent. The event is often seen as an excuse to indulge in all the pleasures that are forbidden during the 40-day fast. One such pleasure is cake, and plenty of it. The consumption of King’s Cake is an essential part of the Mardi Gras celebrations. The cake is usually purple, green and gold and contains a small idol, or token, inside. The person to find the token is said to have good luck for the remainder of the year. With more than 500,000 cakes being consumed during the carnival season, it’s easy to see why they call it “Fat Tuesday”.

#4: Mardi Gras Is a State Holiday in Louisiana

One might find it difficult to comprehend how a holiday renowned for its liberal attitude towards drinking, partying and dancing through the night is in fact a state sponsored one… but it’s true! Ever since Governor Henry Warmoth signed the “Mardi Gras Act” in 1875, the event has been a holiday in the state of Louisiana. So if you’re looking for a place that not only allows drinking in the streets but also celebrates it, look no further. While other states don’t recognize “Fat Tuesday” as an official holiday, it hasn’t stopped places like Alabama, Florida and Texas from organizing their own unique events.

#3: Torch-Carrying is a Mardi Gras Tradition

Before streetlamps, flashlights and cellphones, festival goers participating in the Mardi Gras parade needed a way to illuminate the night time route through the streets of New Orleans. Enter…the Flambeaux Tradition. A flambeau, or flame torch, is a long piece of wood, wrapped at one end with shredded rope and dipped in wax. In its infancy, the tradition was carried out by both slaves and freed African Americans as a way to earn money, since people would toss coins at the torchbearers for doing their part to light the parade route. Nowadays, those carrying torches dance through the streets – turning what was once a necessity into a spectacular show.

#2: Masks Are Required by Law for Float Riders

The wearing of masks on “Fat Tuesday” is a long-standing tradition. In the early years of the event, masks were used as a way to break down social barriers – allowing carnival-goers to mingle with whomever they wanted; free from the class constraints of the day. While wearing a mask today is all in good fun, taking yours off while riding a float could get you in hot water with the cops. To protect the identity of float riders, it is required by law that masks be worn at all times. Leave it to Mardi Gras to have a rule that forces people to join the party or be prosecuted.

#1: Flashing Is Illegal during the Event

Nothing says Mardi Gras like boobs. As synonymous with the event as the city of New Orleans itself, the unveiling of one's mammaries in the hopes of receiving precious beads is a relatively new phenomenon. But did you know that flashing your breasts at Mardi Gras can get you arrested? That’s right. Whether you are a man or a woman, exposing your unmentionables in public is a big no-no with local authorities. Making the relationship between beads and exposed flesh all the more uncomfortable is the fact that in the early 1900s they were meant as gifts – thrown from a float by the physical embodiment of wholesomeness himself: Santa Claus. So do yourself, your lawyer, and St. Nick a favor and keep your private parts private this Mardi Gras.