Throw me something mister! The history of Mardi Gras beads

Carla Paton

Do you love Mardi Gras? If so, you're definitely not alone. Mardi Gras is one of the most popular celebrations in the world, and it's known for its colorful parades, delicious food, and of course, beads! But where did Mardi Gras beads come from? And how did they become such an important part of the Mardi Gras celebration?

The history of Mardi Gras beads is a bit murky, but it seems that they first started appearing in Mardi Gras parades in the early 1900s. At that time, they were mostly made of glass and were used as a way to reward people who had caught good throws from the parade floats. Over time, however, Mardi Gras beads became more and more popular, and eventually became one of the most iconic symbols of Mardi Gras. Beads are usually purple, green, and gold, with these three colors containing the Christian symbolism of justice, faith, and power, respectively.

"The throwing of beads and fake jewels, from parade floats to those watching down below, is thought to have started in the late 19th century, when a carnival king threw fake strands of gems and rings to his 'loyal subjects' sometime in the 1890s. By the early 1920s, one of the Krewes, probably Rex, started regularly throwing strands of glass Czech beads, a precursor to the plastic beads seen today." -

Along with beads, other "gaudy plastic jewelry, toys, and other mementos [are] tossed to the crowds from parading floats. The 'throws', consist of necklaces of plastic beads, coins called doubloons, which are stamped with krewes' logos, parade themes and the year, plus an array of plastic cups and toys such as frisbees, and other trinkets."

These days, Mardi Gras beads are considered essential for any successful Mardi Gras celebration. People flock to New Orleans every year just to get their hands on some of those famous Mardi Gras beads! And if you're ever lucky enough to attend a Mardi Gras parade in person, be sure to keep an eye out for those coveted beads.

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Colorado Highland cattle rancher. Writer and lover of nature and animals.

Colorado State

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