The best Louisiana-flavored funk and zydeco bands in the region will be raising the roof at Oddfellows in Hoboken on Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13.
And the music isn’t the half of it. Beads, trinkets and doubloons will be tossed to partiers from a huge Mardi Gras float. Pots of Jambalaya will be cooking in the kitchen, and Hurricanes – an extremely sweet alcoholic drink made from lime juice, passion fruit syrup and rum – will be available at the bar. The saints will be marching in, the beads will come tumbling down, and all bejeezus will be breaking loose.
Oddfellows Rest was founded by New Orleans natives who know Mardi Gras, and they’ve booked an interesting line up of musical acts.
“Night Train” takes the stage Feb. 12, followed by “Roxy Perry” featuring Otis & the Hurricanes on Feb. 13. Then on Mardi Gras itself – Tuesday, Feb. 16 –party band “The Voodudes” will be Iko Iko-ing into the night and kicking up a funkified storm with their mix of Mardi Gras tunes and bayou twists.
If you’ve never celebrated Mardi Gras, you don’t have to go all the way to New Orleans.
History of ‘carnival season’
The history of Mardi Gras – that’s French for “Fat Tuesday” – began long before Europeans arrived in the New World. In mid-February, the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus-like festival not unlike the Mardi Gras of today. When Rome embraced Christianity, the early church fathers decided it was better to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them.
Carnival became a period of abandon and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent, thus giving a Christian interpretation to the ancient custom.
Mardi Gras refers to the days beginning on or after the Epiphany (Jan. 6) and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday, and has come to describe the celebration and revelry associated with those events. Other cities most famous for their Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Quebec City, Quebec, Mazatlan, Sinaloa in Mexico, and of course, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since 1699. Dixie folk knew what they were doing when they put their greatest holiday smack in the middle of the dreary months after Christmas and before Easter. Mardi Gras has been the traditional pre-Lent “last fling” in many cities since the 18th century. Balls, parades and parties are all anyone thinks about during the “carnival season,” which lasts from Jan. 6 through Fat Tuesday.
Mardi Gras in Hoboken
At Oddfellows Rest (named after a famous New Orleans cemetery) you’ll see authentic versions of all the New Orleans traditions: the beads, the masks, the float and the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold symbolizing justice, faith and power.
Costumes are encouraged.