Why do people toss beads at Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras themed tshirts and apparel have been a large portion of our business.  We created a brand - Mardi Gras Y'All around our Mardi Gras apparel popularity.

The wonderful people of NOLA have backed us and our fun designs as well as folks from all over the USA.

As Mardi Gras draws closer - today, I am answering the popular question - Why do people toss beads at Mardi Gras?

Here is the answer - 

It is believed that Mardi Gras parades began in New Orleans sometime around the 1830’s.

These parades typically run throughout the Carnival season, which officially begins on January 6 (the Twelfth Night of Christmas). The carnival season ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent. In 1872, a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival named Rex. Alongside the people in the parades (who were dressed as high-class aristocrats), Rex tossed sugar coated almonds into the crowds. These Mardi Gras “throws” were similar to the festival customs of the English Renaissance era.

During the late 1800’s, inexpensive necklaces made of glass beads began to be tossed into the crowds by the parade krewes.

The beads were an instant hit among the crowds of New Orleans residents and visiting Mardi Gras tourists. It is believed that a man dressed up as Santa Claus was the first person in a New Orleans parade to use the beads in his costume. Other tourists soon followed his lead and they began to decorate themselves with the bead necklaces.

By 1900, over 100,000 tourists traveled to New Orleans to participate in the celebration and to get some of their own Mardi Gras beads. Over the years, other Mardi Gras souvenirs have also been passed out to the crowds during the parades such as plastic cups, toys, Frisbees, figurines, and doubloons.