From ancient Rome to modern New Orleans, springtime has a way of bringing out the party animal in many cultures. Greece had its Dionysian rituals with usually wound up as an orgy, and Carnival sometimes gets almost a wild.
The French Â– who always know how to have a good time Â– brought Mardi Gras festivities to the New World in the early eighteenth century. Over time and through changing governments, Carnival evolved from elegant private parties to public free-for-alls in the streets.
In the nineteenth century, " Krewes" were formed as a means of preserving the party tradition. By organizing the festivities, the private clubs hoped to prevent a blanket ban on Mardi Gras celebration. Thus the annual series of colorful parades was born, and New Orleans Mardi Gras is now one of the most elaborate public displays anywhere.
For more on Mardi Gras history, see related links.
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