Mardi Gras masks are a longstanding tradition, whether they cover only the wearer’s eyes or the entire face. The masks add an element of mystery and intrigue to the festivities surrounding Mardi Gras, and they are probably one of our favorite traditions! The masks have their origins in ritual celebrations, and the New Orleans celebration of Mardi Gras has been the largest masked party in North America for nearly 100 years. When Mardi Gras was first celebrated in New Orleans, masks were an excellent way to escape the society and class constraints that were so prevalent at the time. With a mask on, carnival goers were free to be whoever they wanted and to mingle with those who would normally shun them. Women, however, needed to be careful when wearing masks; if their identities were discovered their reputations were almost always brought into question. Today, almost everyone wears a mask during Mardi Gras and float riders are actually required by law to wear masks! The masks add an element of fun to the day, adding to the excitement and magic of the celebrations. If you’re looking to pick up a mask of your own you can find them all over the French Quarter, from the simple and silly to the beautiful and elaborate. If you’re looking for a fancier mask, or you just want to see the artistic side of Mardi Gras masks, swing by Maskarade–they even carry some handmade Italian masks created in the old traditional Venetian style!