Meaning of Mardi Gras Beads

Celebrating's Even More Fun
When You're In The Know

The meaning of Mardi Gras beads goes way beyond "Hey mister throw me some beads" while lifting your shirt. Like all of the great traditions of Mardi Gras you can find right here at Holiday Party SOS, the beads have a rich history.

The true meaning of Mardi Gras beads starts with the colors. The origin of Mardi Gras beads and their meanings was determined by Rex, the King of the first daytime Carnival in 1872. Rex was really Russia's Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff. Being of royalty, he determined that he would use the royal colors for this celebration: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

Bead Throws

green, gold, and purple strands of Mardi Gras beads

Mardi Gras beads are a "throw" krewe (club) members (the people on the floats) toss into the crowd. All throws bring the recipients good luck for the coming year. The thought is that they toss the color to the person whoexhibits that color's definition. That being said, along with the bare-breasted women, they do try to make sure that kids get their fair share of beads.

Mardi Gras beads were originally made of glass. As you can imagine, these didn't hold up well being tossed into the crowd. Plastic really made the Mardi Gras beads the most common throw by all krewe members across all parades. Although the meaning of Mardi Gras beads goes back to the original purple, green, and gold, you can get Mardi Gras beads in all colors, shapes, sizes, and finishes these days.

Other Throws

Mardi Gras doubloons in purple, green, and gold

Mixed in with the traditional strands of beads, you'll find doubloons (metallic coins in all colors) being tossed into the crowd. Rex originally threw real good coins, making it a very expensive throw. Plastic again made this throw far more plentiful.

The third most common throw is cups, also known as New Orleans dinnerware—after all, they're not for holding your doubloons, they're for consuming large amounts of alcohol, drinking being one of the best known traditions of Mardi Gras. Stuffed animals (Louisiana-themed, of course, such as crawfish and shrimp) along with other small toys are used as throws, too.

Handmade Throws

Handmade throws are the rarest and most coveted throws. The hand-decorated coconuts handed out by the Zulu krewe are one of the most sought after souvenirs of Mardi Gras. Referred to as the "golden nugget" from their predecessor throw, the walnut painted gold, the coconut first appeared in its unpainted state as early as 1910.

The other most coveted throw is the hand-decorated shoe of the Muse krewe. A newer krewe, the Muse is an all-girl krewe. Started in 2000, they're known for their shoes which are very elaborately decorated with purple, green, and gold; and rhinestones, sequins and glitter. Lions, tigers, and bears...oh my.


Use our original Mardi Gras party invitation to keep the meaning of Mardi Gras beads in the forefront of your party. Our Mardi Gras bead invite is just waiting for you to download and print it!

The Colors

The colors of Mardi Gras are so important to Louisiana that LSU selected the Mardi Gras colors of purple and gold, leaving green for Tulane. To jazz it up a bit, Tulane added blue to complement the green.

The Spirit

When wearing or using Mardi Gras beads as decorations, remember the true meaning of Mardi Gras beads is "more is better": more glitter, more flash, more, more, more. Mardi Gras is not about taste. It's about tacky, and the tackier the better.

I'm telling you, big metallic beads rule. Wear multiple strands around your neck, your wrist, and in your hair. Beads can be cut and used in doorways hot glued to a dowel for beaded curtains, used as ties on curtains, or draped on lamps for maximum sparkle. Remember, this is one instance where more is definitely better!

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to Mardi Gras Celebrations

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