Happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!
Today is Mardi Gras, for those of you who aren't aware of such things and I wanted to pass along another grave of someone very much associated with Mardi Gras in the United States. This is the grave of Michael Krafft, notice anything...well, odd, about it?
Here's a closer look...
Can you see the Mardi Gras beads on the obelisk? But more importantly...is that a cow on it?? Why yes, it is! And do you know why there's a cow on his gravestone? Well, I'll tell you...(This next part is taken from this Mardi Gras site
...) The prototypical impromptu, follow-your-bliss krewe was born on a rainy Christmas
Eve night in 1831, in Mobile, Ala. A cotton broker named Michael Krafft —
described in a contemporary account as “a fellow of infinite jest and…fond of
fun of any kind” — apparently found himself in the doorway of a hardware store,
quite likely intoxicated. He gathered up a string of cowbells and attaching them
to the teeth of a rake, went on his merry way, clattering. According to what
Carnival Historian Samuel Kinser regards as the most credible account of that
night’s events, Krafft, having drawn a crowd, caught the attention of a
passer-by who exclaimed, “ ‘Hello, Mike — what society is this?’ Michael, giving
his rake and extra shake and looking up at his bells, responded, ‘This? This is
the Cowbellion de Rakin Society.’ ”
The Cowbellions went on to become Mobile’s premiere Carnival organization,
sponsoring New Year’s Eve masquerades and even venturing to New Orleans in the
late 1830s to partake in Mardi Gras. In 1840, the krewe presented its first
parade with floats depicting a specific theme: “Heathen Gods and Goddesses.” A
masked ball followed.
The Cowbellion de Rakin Society, founded on lark, had become an institution, showing the way
for Comus. And although Comus no longer parades — it withdrew from the streets
after its 1991 procession, because of differences with the New Orleans City
Council over a newly adopted Carnival antidiscrimination ordinance — members
still march through the French Quarter on Mardi Gras, brandishing rakes and
ringing cowbells in homage to the Cowbellions and the waggish spirit of Michael
So, there you have it, it's not so much the cow, as it is the cowbell and if you look a little closer, you'll see there's also a rake leaning up against the tree, all as an homage to the Cowbellion de Rakin Society which Michael Krafft started way back in 1831, thus starting the tradition of Mardi Gras here in the United States.
I just wish I was back home today enjoying the parades and revelry.