Now of course everyone knows what a Christmas tree is, but only people who live in the Deep South have seen a Mardi Gras tree. This is the newest decoration for this festive time of celebration before Lent begins.
It started out as a fluke when someone didn’t want or didn’t want to remove their artificial Christmas tree once the season passed. So most of the Christmas-type decorations were removed and the ones that included purple and gold ones were added and voila, the Mardi Gras tree was born. It didn’t take long for the new tradition to catch on and homes across the South began to adopt the newer decor. Many homes had long had a traditional Mardi Gras wreath, but this was something else, a beautiful addition to any party and gathering.
During the two weeks leading up to the big day, green, purple and gold lights can be seen flashing in the windows of houses along the Gulf Coast. Most residents enjoy looking at the lovingly decorated trees and see this as a way to avoid the winter blues once the joyous Christmas season has passed. Even department stores have joined the practice and continue to sell a small number of artificial trees at the end of the Christmas season. Of course, the decorations that go on a Mardi Gras tree are a little different than what would go on a Christmas tree, more or less. While the strings of beads that decorate a Christmas tree tend to be strung around the tree, the beads that go on a Mardi Gras tree are typically of the necklace variety and strung that way as well.
The garland surrounding the tree is usually hung the same way, however the color is purple rather than red. Moon cakes that can also be hung on the tree as traditional ornaments are hung on a Christmas tree. The best way to do this is to leave the moon cake wrapped in cellophane and use decorative hooks threaded through the plastic. Mooncakes come in various flavors and provide colorful and tasty decorations for the tree. Traditional moon cake colors (and flavors) include banana yellow, chocolate brown, vanilla white, and orange-orange. These, along with various sweets and doubloons, are also used on the tree.
Of course, all Mardi Gras trees are currently artificial because the real ones that are sold for use at Christmas would have dried out and would be brown and wilted. Perhaps sometime in the near future, those who bring Christmas trees will see that there is a market for real trees during the Mardi Gras season. For now though people from the south just adapt and keep their artificial trees longer than usual or buy one separately just for the season.
The people of the Gulf Coast take the celebrations of the Mardi Gras season seriously and they all want to make sure their homes and offices reflect the festive moment for everyone to enjoy.