Where was the first Mardi Gras?  


 If the term Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," is taken literally, it is the last day of carnival festivity, the day before Lent. Records are very clear that the city of New Orleans had been the scene of public celebrations on that day since the eighteenth century, whereas Mobile's public celebration of Fat Tuesday did not begin until after the Civil War, in the year 1868.  

It was in Mobile, however, that unique holiday customs originated, which later came to be associated with Mardi Gras.

Mobile Register, February 26, 1868 

Mobile Daily Register, February 9, 1869

The word was Mardi Gras was then sometimes taken away from its literal translation and used to refer generally to those traditions and that particular kind of celebration. 
Journalists and author,
Erwin  Craighead and Thomas Cooper Deleon,
were among the few who tried to set the record straight. 
It was in 1930, late in his career, after many years of corresponding with Frank Diard on Mobile's history, that
Erwin Craighead, Editor Emeritus of the Mobile Register,
wrote Mobile Facts and Tradition: Noteworthy People and Events.

Craighead wrote, 

The answer is that the mystic form of the celebration, commonly called "Mardi Gras,"
originated in Mobile on the eve of the year 1831; but the celebration of Mardi Gras,
or Shrove Tuesday, was not begun in Mobile until 1867.

 He was off by a year; the celebration of Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, was actually begun in Mobile in 1868.
But he had at least moved beyond the influence of Diard to understand the meaning of "Mardi Gras," how
its early form differed from that of Mobile, and its seniority over Mobile's mystic parades.

He went on, 

It must be said that New Orleans was the first city to celebrate
Shrove  Tuesday and Mobile the first to organize the societies; that from New Orleans
Mobile finally adopted the same day of celebration as New Orleans honored and
New Orleans adopted from Mobile the same method of celebration that
     Mobile had instituted.

Thus, with generous exchange, a generous rivalry
was begun in which Mobile has played no mean part.

  But then, what's in a name?