Haiti Mardi Gras Facts
"Mardi Gras" or "Fat Tuesday" (in French), has its origins in medieval Europe that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.
The festival marks the last day before Catholics begin Lent on Ash Wednesday. It is a holiday which is celebrated around the world by people of various beliefs because it focuses on having a good time and enjoying food and drink. It has many international names, such as Martes de Carnaval in Mexico, Martedi Grasso in Italy, Fastan in Sweden, J'Ouvert in Trinidad, and Karneval in Germany. The Mardi Gras has five popular traditions. Here their meanings are explained. (1) Wearing masks (it hides class constraints); (2) The Flambeaux Tradition (in the beginning shredded rope soaked in pitch were carried by the slaves so that the nighttime revelers could enjoy festivities); (3) Throwing Of Beads (color chosen by the king was thrown to the person who exhibited the meaning of the color like justice, power or faith); (4) Rex, The King of Carnival (a prominent person is chosen) and (5) Handing Out Zulu Coconuts (a favorite Mardi Gras throw, considered priceless).
Although this festival is celebrated in many parts of Haiti, the main affair happens in Port-au-Prince. The visitors visiting Haiti during this time can expect everyone in costumes, parades with hundreds of flamboyantly decorated unique floats, craft stands, so much food everywhere in the city and popular Kompa bands playing throughout. The bands dance their way down the street, people from all around, join them dancing and singing. Young boys run around the streets in masks and costumes. Traditionally, Haitians burn their costumes on the last day of the festival.
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