Happy Lundi Gras! ...Or the "Fat Monday" before Fat Tuesday. Weeks of celebration lead up to the culmination of the holiday season tomorrow on MARDI GRAS DAY. So as the hours dwindle and the season of Lent draws near make sure to celebrate by channeling the spirit of New Orleans: eat, drink and be merry (preferably in costume)!!!
The day before Mardi Gras in New Orleans is no longer a day of rest before the big day . . . Lundi Gras is a relatively recently popularized name for a series of Shrove Monday events taking place during the New Orleans Mardi Gras. It includes the tradition of Rex, king of the New Orleans carnival, arriving by boat. This began in 1874, but the term Lundi Gras was not widely applied until 1987 when the arrival was brought back as part of a series of river-related events under the name of "Lundi Gras".
In 1874, 18 years after the beginning of modern Carnival celebrations in North America, Rex chose to have a grand arrival in New Orleans from the Mississippi River. Once on dry land, Rex and his royal court were placed in carriages and driven through the streets to City Hall. Therein, the mayor and various city officials would present King with the keys to the city and proclaim the rule of Rex in this mystical and temporary realm of Carnival. Typically, the proclamation decreed the beginning of Mardi Gras and Rex's reign at sunrise the following morning.
The Rex landing was a success, and quickly became a treasured part of the Carnival celebrations which was unique to New Orleans; no other country or parishes observed the Monday before Shrovetide. The landing continued until World War I stopped Carnival in New Orleans. When the parades again returned to the streets some two years later, the landing had fallen by the wayside, a seeming casualty of the 'war to end all wars'.
In 1971 the landing was recreated for one time only to celebrate Rex's centennial. In 1987, Rex once again made a grand arrival on the Riverfront at the foot of Canal Street but now with the phrase Lundi Gras attached to the events which would include concerts and fireworks.
The King of Zulu also participates in the modern version of the event along while the Mayor of New Orleans usually attends as well to salute the two Carnival monarch and turn over symbolic control of the city for the following day.