Mardi Gras Umbrellas

Mardi Gras umbrellas from New Orleans

Image courtesy Seiyaku

New Orleans, aside from hurricanes, is known for wild times, the French Quarter, and jazz. Somehow these work their way into all facets of their life…and death.

When you die in New Orleans, you can have a classic jazz funeral procession. The family are the ‘First Line’ of mourners. Next is the jazz band. Following are the ‘Second Line’ of mourners ~ friends who are paying their respects.

After the body is interned, all the Second Line mourners celebrate the life of the deceased by dancing in the funeral procession. Due to the heat, they carry fans, handkerchiefs, and black umbrellas to block the sun. First just plain black, now for the ladies, at least, they carry decorative black lacy umbrellas.

Women being women, they began decorating colorful umbrellas with lace and streamers in the gaudy Mardi Gras colors. The next step was to decorate them for weddings.

Now they’re used for table decorations and wedding favors. Using the small cocktail umbrellas ~ glitter, ribbons, and lace are applied on every other section, between the ribs.

What makes the umbrellas so unique is that through this whole evolutionary process, one main symbol has carried forward ~ the Maltese Cross , a symbol of blessings, while the eight points symbolize the Eight Beatitudes.

At Mardi Gras and weddings, these little crosses remind people of the true origin of their celebration.

For the full-sized real-deal umbrellas, Gentlemen’s Emporium, an online shop for Victorian and Edwardian outfits, has a line of ladies’ umbrellas . You’ll find Battenberg lace umbrellas in white, ivory, black, pink, and red. Nylon umbrellas, either fringed or feathered, are offered in white, red and black.

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