Mardi Gras throws

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Tree covered with Mardi Gras beads

Mardi Gras throws are strings of beads, doubloons, cups, or other trinkets passed out or thrown from the floats in the New Orleans Mardi Gras, the Mobile Mardi Gras and parades all throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States, to spectators lining the streets. The "gaudy plastic jewelry, toys, and other mementos [are] tossed to the crowds from parading floats".[1] "The goodies, or 'throws,' consist of necklaces of plastic beads, coins called doubloons, which are stamped with krewes' logos, parade themes and the year, plus an array of plastic cups and toys such as Frisbees or figurines".[1] The cups that are used as throws are sometimes referred to as New Orleans dinnerware.[2]

Beads used on Mardis Gras (known as Shrove Tuesday in some regions) are gold, purple and green, with these three colors containing the Christian symbolism of power, justice and faith, respectively.[3][4] Traditionally, Mardis Gras beads were manufactured in Japan and Czech Republic, although many are now imported from mainland China.[5] As Fat Tuesday concludes the period of Carnival (Shrovetide), Mardis Gras beads are taken off oneself on the following day, Ash Wednesday, which begins the penitential season of Lent.[6] As such, one of the "solemn practices of Ash Wednesday is to pack all the beads acquired during the parade season into bags and boxes and taken them to the attic".[6]

Spectators have traditionally shouted to the krewe members, "Throw me something, mister!", a phrase that is iconic in New Orleans' Mardi Gras street argot. Some women expose their breasts to invite throws in the French Quarter. This is not common during Mardi Gras parades. [7][8]

Some krewes have specialty throws; for example, the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club hand-painted coconut[9] or the Krewe of Muses shoes and mirrors.


  1. ^ a b Roach, John (February 20, 2004). "The Rich History of Mardi Gras's Cheap Trinkets". National Geographic News. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  2. ^ "Mardi Gras New Orleans". Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  3. ^ Wilkie, Laurie A (16 June 2016). Strung Out on Archaeology: An Introduction to Archaeological Research. Routledge. p. 253. ISBN 9781315419527.
  4. ^ Murray, Julie (1 January 2014). Mardi Gras. ABDO Publishing Company. p. 16. ISBN 9781629680705.
  5. ^ Geary, Theresa Flores (2008). The Illustrated Bead Bible: Terms, Tips & Techniques. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 188. ISBN 9781402723537.
  6. ^ a b Higgins, Earl J. (2007). The Joy of Y'at Catholicism. Pelican Publishing. p. 122. ISBN 9781455606856.
  7. ^ Shrum, W. and J. Kilburn. Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras: Ceremonial Exchange and Moral Order. Social Forces, Vol. 75, No. 2. (December 1996), pp. 423–458.
  8. ^ Mardi Gras History and Traditions
  9. ^ New Orleans Mardi Gras. "Zulu Mardi Gras Coconut"