[Image by Becca Miller]

Carnival Culture | The Gods of Mardi Gras

07:00 January 29, 2024
By: Becca Miller

The Many Gods of NOLA Carnival

Many don't realize that Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint, and within this marathon are parades all over the city. It is impossible to make them all, and that's why many of us have our favorite parades. These are the parades that you cannot miss, and for which you spend at least a week in advance trying to plan the perfect parade spot. We all have our own reasons for loving certain Mardi Gras krewes—sometimes it's what they throw, and other times it's their history and meaning.

[Image credited to Jean Bernard Restout]

As you may have seen, there are many krewes that use the name of a Greek god or goddess. Each god(dess) has his or her own history and meaning attached, which pairs with the origin of a corresponding krewe. So, we compiled a list of krewes that have gods in their name and the history of each god.

Carnival Krewes & The Gods They're Named After

Krewe of Bacchus—derives its name from the Greek god of wine and vegetation and the son of Zeus. He became known for being the Greek god of wine and cheer, a pretty good god to celebrate Mardi Gras with. See how Bacchus inspired the krewe during its 2018 parade.

[Image credited to Victor Florence Pollet]

Krewe of Endymion—derives its name from a handsome Aeolian hunter, shepherd, or king who was to rule Olympia. There are many accounts that say the titan Selene is his lover and that Zeus may be his father.

Krewe of Hermes—derives its name from the son of Zeus and messenger to the gods. He was also known as the divine trickster, playing tricks on the gods for his own satisfaction.

Krewe of Iris—derives its name from the Greek goddess of rainbows and messenger to the gods. The krewe has never had to cancel their parade due to inclement weather, because "the sun always shines on Iris."

Krewe of Morpheus—derives its name from the Greek god of dreams. He had the ability to appear in mortals' dreams in any form.

[Image credited to Baldassarre Peruzzi]

Krewe of Muses—derives its name from the muses, who are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory). The muses are known for their divine beauty and grace, creating inspiration for all artists.

Krewe of Nyx—derives its name from the Greek goddess of the night. The krewe is named after her because of her power and beauty, "embracing a sisterhood and friendship amongst its members."

Krewe of Okeanos—derives its name from the Greek god of oceans and fertile valleys. The krewe is sponsored by the Sonaeko Club, which is Okeanos spelled backward.

[Image credited to Franz von Stuck]

Krewe of Orpheus—derives its name from the son of Apollo and Calliope. Although not a god but rather half god and half mortal, Orpheus received the lyre from his father, Apollo, and played it to perfection. It's no secret that this krewe was founded by Harry Connick Jr., who also appeared as Orpheus' monarch during the krewe's 2018 parade. With his musical talents, Orpheus is a perfect fit.

Krewe of Oshun—derives its name from a Yoruba goddess of the river. She is considered the most powerful goddess and has human attributes.

Krewe of Proteus—derives its name from the son of Poseidon and a herdsman of Poseidon's seals. He can tell the future and change shapes.

A Holiday of Gods & Festivities

Mardi Gras is the city of New Orleans' most important and most historic celebration, drawing people from all over the world to take part in its revelry. So it shouldn't be a surprise that so many krewes are named after larger than life gods and goddesses. Carnival is so important to New Orleanians that it practically is a religion in and of itself. So let's give thanks to the many gods that help keep the Mardi Gras season the most festive time of the year in the Big Easy.

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