Happy Twelfth Night

Today ushers out the Christmas season and kicks off Mardi Gras!

Happy Twelfth Night, y'all! Today (12th Day, the 12th day after Christmas) is the Epiphany and the former "official" close of the Christmas holiday season. In our house, it's when the tree and lights come down.

It's also the official kick off to Mardi Gras.

My year-end holidays were two weeks in New Orleans, taking care of a friend's amazing guest house in the Marigny. The Bohemian Armadillo is a converted ol' creole cottage just a few blocks off Frenchman and Esplanade, a clubby triangle of streets that borders the northeast side of the French Quarter and is the de facto gateway to the Faubourg Marigny. I've stayed at the 'dillo a number of times, but this time got to enjoy life as an innkeeper through Christmas and New Year's.

Today in NOLA, the mayor kicked off the carnival season with a King Cake party and an acknowledgment of 100 years of one of the festival's most adored krewe's: Zulu. Louisiana State Museum's Presbytère, located right next to French Quarter landmark, St. Louis Cathedral, is the home of an amazing Mardi Gras museum and this coming Friday, they launch a new exhibit dedicated to the centenary African-American krewe: From Tramps to Kings: 100 Years of Zulu, which includes a special tribute to legend Louis Armstrong (King Zulu, 1949 and first celeb king of any Mardi Gras group) as well as other pivotal figures.

According to the Gambit story:

Also deeply felt will be the influence of Roy Glapion, whose direction brought Zulu to the foreground of New Orleans social aid and pleasure clubs, expanding both the organization's roll (it currently counts around 600 active members) and its role as a charitable force in the local communities. Zulu will honor the entire Glapion family — including Desiree Glapion Rogers, recently named the White House social secretary by President-elect Barack Obama — at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday at 1pm, among other Zulu royalty.
Visitors will be greeted by some massive Zulu float figureheads, on loan from Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World.

Whilst the kid and I were given a special press preview of the Zulu displays, we were also offered a fabulous opportunity: to climb to the top of the Cabildo (the structure that mirrors the Presbytère on the other side of the cathedral) and hang out in the cupola. Wow. It's a rare view, indeed, to enjoy such proximity to the spires of St. Louis and a bird's-eye of the circular gardens (see gallery) out front, below, paving the way to Jackson Square.

If you are planning a Mardi Gras getaway, check back here over the next few weeks. In the meanwhile, many of the links in my blog post Mardi Gras Trail round-up from '08 are auto-updated for '09.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Holidays, Mardi Gras, Twelfth Night, New Orleans, Galveston, carnival, Zulu, Cabildo, Presbytere, St. Louis Cathedral

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