Why Do They Give Out Beads at Mardi Gras?
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Why Do They Give Out Beads at Mardi Gras?

Have you ever been buying beads online for Mardi Gras when you stop for a second and wonder exactly how the idea of tossing out beads started? If you said yes, you’re certainly not alone. Seeing crowds screaming for beads and people graciously tossing them to them can be strange to a Mardi Gras newcomer. However, there is a history of Mardi Gras, including the use of beads. We’ll look at that in this blog post.

Thrown Souvenirs

People have recorded instances of souvenirs being tossed to Mardi Gras parade-goers since all the way back in the 1840s. Back in this time, instead of beads, some of the most popular tossed items included sugar-coated almonds and small, bright-colored baubles. Some people took it farther and pranked others by throwing flour and dirt at other revelers.

History of Throws

While there is no concrete evidence of where beading throwing came from, it’s often believed that it began as a variation on the festivals that took place in Europe during the Renaissance period. At this time in history, carnivals were popular and involved hurling projectiles at other people. Some believe this tradition goes back even farther to pagan roots when those who survived winter would celebrate by tossing grain into the fields.

Moving to Glass Beads

Glass beads weren’t used at Mardi Gras until the 1880s, after krewes between to organize the holiday. Some say that the first person to use beads at a parade was dressed up as Santa Clause. Regardless of the originator, the beads were beloved and became popular the next year. By the time it was 1900, throwing beads was known as a tradition, one that over 100,000 tourists a year came down to Louisiana to partake in.

Plastic Beads

The move to plastic beads is a modern phenomenon that has largely come about due to the affordability of beads made of this material. Aluminum beads are also extremely common, and you can expect to see both on an average Mardi Gras. Nowadays, these beads are often traded between willing participants or caught from the many floats rolling down the streets for Mardi Gras parade season.

The next time you’re buying beads online, you’ll have an idea of the history of this exciting tradition. If you’d like to stock up on beads, Mardi Gras Beads for Less can help. You can contact us for more information by calling 337-243-0700.