Mardi Gras Free Color-by-Pattern Mask
Celebrate Mardi Gras with this free printable color-by-pattern mask! Do you know that Mardi Gras can be traced back to ancient Celtic and ancient Roman traditions? Teaching children the history of special days strengthens their sense of self as they learn appreciation for people and cultures.
Mardi Gras History
Ancient Spring Festival
For thousands of years people have celebrated spring as a time of new beginnings when the land becomes alive again. Mardi Gras is a spring celebration with roots in ancient traditions that date back thousands of years to pagan and Roman festivals infamous for excess eating, drinking, and rowdy behavior. When Christianity came to Rome, the well-loved traditions didn’t conform to religious standards. Still, church leaders decided to combine popular festivals with Christian religious celebrations. They allowed the Spring celebrations of excess to continue as a prelude to Lent — a period of religious fasting that occurs for the six weeks prior to the Christian Easter celebration.
Medieval European Traditions
For hundreds of years celebrations have been on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. During Lent, Christians would not eat meat, cheese, eggs, or butter. Mardi Gras is French for “fat Tuesday” when the French people paraded a fat ox down the street. The English called the day before Lent “pancake Tuesday”. They cooked all of their eggs, butter, and milk and ate stacks and stacks of pancakes. The Spanish called the days before Lent “carnival”. The Latin roots “carne” and “vale” mean “farewell meat”.
Traditions in the United States
In 1699 Mardi Gras came to America. French explorers landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was March 3rd and celebrations were in full-swing back home, so the exploration party celebrated too. Three years later the French settled permanently near present-day Mobile, Alabama. They continued celebrations from the home land, donned with costumes and masks for an evening of dancing. Fifteen years later settlers brought traditions to New Orleans. For three hundred years, celebrations in the United States have evolved as people and conditions have changed. Today, the cities of Mobile and New Orleans host the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the world.
In 1857, several young men in New Orleans formed a special carnival club named “Mistick Krewe of Comus”. In mythology, Comus was a Roman god of partying. These men paraded on Mardi Gras night with two floats. They wore costumes and masks. Servants carried torches and walked alongside the floats. This delighted the people of New Orleans!
Mardi Gras Colors – Purple, Green, Gold
1872 marked the official Mardi Gras colors – Purple, Green, and Gold. In addition to looking great together, these were the family colors of that year’s special guest – Alexis Romanoff, the Grand Duke of Russia. Twenty years later, publications explained the meaning of the colors. Purple represents justice. Green represents faith. Gold represents power. Today in spring, the readily recognized colors cover New Orleans inside and out.
Color-by-Pattern Mardi Gras Mask
Color your own Mardi Gras mask with this free printable color-by-pattern printable. Follow the key to color purple, green, or gold.
Download our free Mardi Gras color-by-pattern mask HERE
Posted in Activities & Crafts, Flash to the Past