Are you ready for the party? Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as Mardi Gras, and revelers are ready to celebrate. Worldwide, Carnival celebrations typically begin at any point after the religious observance known as Epiphany and carry on up until the Ash Wednesday, but most people really see it as a time to to celebrate. From wearing masks and costumes, dancing, and parades, it is celebrated differently around the world, but no matter how outrageous the party gets, it is the last chance to go big or go home, so to speak, before Shrove Tuesday, which isassociated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins. After a night of partying Mardi Gras style, I imagine some have more to confess than others, if you know what I mean.
Since Monday is about fashion, style, and accessories here on the Fab, I am glad to take advantage of the Mardi Gras fever as an excuse to showcase some absolutely fabulous masks. Each and every one of these masks I have hand selected to feature in this post, all found on Etsy, was chosen because they are so visually striking, they would make a great wall sculpture even if you don’t plan on wearing them. When you think about it, there are precious few opportunities to wear masks once we become adults. I was going to say “grown up”, but does anyone really ever grow up? You may get the chance at Halloween, maybe there is a New Year’s Eve party that calls for masks, but rarely do we find engraved invitations to masked balls in our in-box.
Wearing a mask can be a liberating thing, if it is made well, it almost becomes a part of you, and while your eyes are visible, it may take people a few looks to sort out who is really behind the mask, if they can at all. But it is rather romantic to partially conceal your identity, to dress up and play at being someone, or something else. Venetian style masks are extremely popular, particularly during Mardi Gras, and have historically been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer’s identity and social status.
A mask allows it’s wearer to act more freely in a circumstance where he or she wants the opportunity to interact with others outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. Even today a mask is useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit, others just personal, such as romantic encounters. It is delightfully fun to enjoy the perceived anonymity that a mask can provide. No wonder they are so popular at Mardi Gras, where any number of mildly scandalous event might occur.
I have never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras celebrations, but many of my family members have gone, and of course traveled home again with stories of the sheer number of people jammed into the streets of the French Quarter, the noise, the celebrations, the beads, and the strong coffee and beignets the following morning. My mother has a particular talent for getting beads, bringing home huge shopping bags full of the baubles that have become favorite dress-up staples for her grandchildren.
The three colours designated for New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations, Purple, Gold, and Green, besides looking deliciously decadent actually have been said to have significant meaning. Purple is said to signify justice, gold stands for power, and green means faith. Whether you subscribe to that notion or not, these are the colors most often seen during the Mardi Gras season, and particularly in the last five days leading up to Ash Wednesday.
While these colours are often seen in masks worn on the day, there is no limit to the design or coloration of masks for Mardi Gras or any other occasion. While I may not be celebrating Mardi Gras, in the traditional sense, I would likely choose a mask that features more traditional Venetian elements, or perhaps a Harlequin style. And if you are like me and have never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras season, or have young children and can’t travel easily, there is no reason not to start your very own family tradition of having a mini-masked ball in your home. Invite your friends and family, decorate the house in the traditional colours of green, purple, and gold, and make your own King Cake. Make a list of fun party games and hand out some throws [traditionally beaded necklaces]. What a fun memory you will be creating, and a great photo opportunity too.
Today’s selection of masks are all available on Etsy, and while they may not make it to you in time for this year’s celebrations, it may be wise to pick up a mask to have on hand when the next opportunity to wear one may arise. A wild bachelorette party would be one occasion where a mask might come in handy, or a bachelor party for that matter. There is no reason at all that you cannot have a masked party in your own house, be it a birthday celebration, a grown-up Halloween party, or your next New Year’s bash. Masks make a wonderful conversation starter, and the range of style, from traditional to outrageous, can be a very personal expression of your own character.
So grab yourself a strong cup of coffee and a slab of King Cake and settle in to search for the mask of your dreams. King Cake, by the way, is a coffee cake, oblong and braided, and iced with a simple icing then covered with purple, green and gold sugar. Each cake contains a hidden bean or small plastic baby. Different traditions hold for the one that finds that little trinket in their slice of cake. Martha Stewart has a particularly easy recipe for King Cake that you can make at home, and you can decided what significance you want to add to the finding of the hidden prize.
Your mask may be among the selection showcased here today, or you might want to head over to Etsy to have a closer look at the amazing mask creations of the artists that combine the skills of a sculptor with that of a milliner, combining elements of paper, leather, metals, feathers, and beads to produce the most magical and pleasing results. You never know when your next occasion to wear a mask might come along, and you might as well be prepared. Have a marvelous Mardi Gras everyone.
Note: All Images and Creations in this post are Copyright and the Intellectual Property of the Individual Artists and their Respective Etsy Shops. No Infringement is Intended. Please follow the Link under the image in question for further information including price, shipping costs, and availability. Some items are Ready-To-Ship while others are Made To Order.