The History of Mardi Gras and Its Significance in Biloxi

The History of Mardi Gras and Its Significance in Biloxi

It’s February, which can only mean one thing in Biloxi: Mardi Gras season is here! The actual holiday may take place on February 21st this year, but folks on the Coast are going to be celebrating all month long.

Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) has a history traced all the way back to medieval Europe, where early renditions of the holiday known as “Boeuf Gras” (or fatted calf) were celebrated everywhere from Italy to France. In 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville settled on a plot of land about 60 miles south of New Orleans and named it “Pointe du Mardi Gras.” When he and his men realized that it was the eve of the holiday. The first true Mardi Gras celebration actually occurred in Mobile, Alabama in 1703, and then the following year a secret society — the Masque de la Mobile (predecessors of today’s Mardi Gras krewes, or those who organize the festivities) — was established to carry on the tradition with parades. By the time Bienville officially established New Orleans in 1718, Mardi Gras had become an openly celebrated festivity, although they were initially celebrated as elegant balls. Eventually, Mardi Gras began encompassing all of these various forms of celebration to become the holiday we know and love today.

However, unless you make the trek to New Orleans every year, you may not realize how important Mardi Gras is to several communities along the Gulf Coast, including Biloxi, which goes out of its way to bring the infectious energy of a New Orleans Mardi Gras to the Magnolia State every year.

Mardi Gras is as deeply engrained into Biloxi culture as shrimping. Although historical records indicate that Mardi Gras celebrations have occurred in Biloxi since at least the 1880s, the city’s first official Mardi Gras Carnival celebration occurred all the way back on March 3, 1908! The first King Bienville (later King D’Iberville)— chosen by the people of Biloxi— was John Carraway, with Blanche Picard as his Queen Ixolib (Biloxi spelled backwards). He was chosen for his high regard within the community and would set the standard for all chosen Kings to follow decades into the future.

Today, Mardi Gras in Biloxi is a time for the city to go all-out in its celebrations, with parades through the heart of downtown Biloxi, parties, cookouts and more all taking place!

Speaking of cookouts: hungry for shrimp? If you’ve been thinking of ordering shrimp from us, now is the perfect time! 

Click here to order mouthwatering wild-caught shrimp straight from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.