Mardi Gras and Mobile

"Mardi Gras" is a French phrase that translates to "Fat Tuesday".

It is a day of feasting and celebration which precedes the season of Lent, the 40 days of fasting that takes place before the glorious day of Easter.

Mardi Gras is an ancient and mystical celebration tracing its roots back over a thousand years before the birth of Christ. When the Roman soldiers were over running Greece, they observed this festival and took it back to Rome with them. From there it spread throughout the Roman Empire, finding its strongest footing in the Latin countries we now call Italy, Spain and Portugal. So, it was quite natural that the founder of our fine city, for whom our society is named, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville brought the custom with him to the New World when he founded Mobile in 1702. It was a quaint and curious custom his ancestors had enjoyed for centuries in his native country of France and it is well documented that the very first Mardi Gras celebration in the New World took place at Fort Louis de la Mobile in 1703.

When the Spaniards came to Mobile in 1780, they brought the Spanish version of Mardi Gras that incorporated torch light parades through the streets held on the eve of the Feast of Epiphany or twelfth night on January 6th. The American flavor was added when a gallant young man by the name of Michael Krafft and his companions paraded through the city streets on New Years Eve in the year 1830. So, Mobile can truly be called the Mother of Mardi Gras in the New World, and also gained the distinction of being the Mother of Mystics when the oldest mystic society in the New World was founded here!