Mardi Gras Gift Economy

“Throw Me Something, Mister!”: Mardi Gras is much more than a debaucherous party. The exchange of gifts in parades and parties binds New Orleans’ diverse communities together.

The importance of giving for its own sake, rather than for prestige or other benefits, is emphasized by krewe anonymity. Mardi Gras law requires that krewe members wear masks during their parades. This creates an important dynamic: the receiver does not know who the gift giver is. No personal reciprocity is expected.