How to speak the language of Mardi Gras

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Newcomers to the Mississippi Gulf Coast are faced with many new terms when carnival season rolls around. Here is a glossary that should be helpful.

Beads -- necklace thrown at parades.

Captain - leader of each carnival association.

Carnival -- festival season which runs from the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, to Mardi Gras.

Colors -- purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power.

Court -- royalty for a carnival krewe or club.

Doubloons -- commemorative coins.

King cake--crown-shaped pastry embellished with decorations in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. King cakes resulted from European celebrations for Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, which commemorates the visit of the Wise Men to the Christ Child. To choose the king and queen for the festivities, a bean was tucked into the cake, and the person who found it received a year of good luck and the opportunity to pick a person to serve with him or her as royalty. Today's king cakes have a tiny plastic baby instead of a bean, so be careful when you bite into your slice of the treat. Many are filled with fruit, nuts or cream cheese. The finder of the baby traditionally has luck for a year, rules for the day--and has to supply the king cake for the next party.

Krewe -- Mardi Gras organization.

Laissez les bon temps rouler -- French phrase which means "let the good times roll."

Lent -- a 40-day period of reflection and repentance observed by Christians preparing for Easter.

Maskers - float riders and anyone dressed in costume.

Mardi Gras -- French for "Fat Tuesday," signifying celebration or overindulgence before Lent begins. The date varies depending on when Easter falls during a particular year (first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21, the spring equinox).

Throw me something, Mister--traditional cry of parade-goers to catch the attention of someone riding on a float to toss them a trinket.

Throws--necklaces, plastic cups, stuffed animals, candy, toys, coupons, pens, pencils, doubloons, paper flowers and other items tossed to parade spectators.