Mobile, Alabama: the home of Mardi Gras.
When you think of this holiday, you think of the parades, the elegant balls, and the endless king cake you’ll devour.
In Mobile, there are traditions embedded in the roots of our city.
Next to the more recognizable side of the Mardi Gras holiday, you’ll discover bits and pieces unique to the celebration in Mobile.
Joe Cain Day is a part of Mardi Gras only celebrated in Mobile.
Most know the impact Joe Cain had on Mardi Gras, bringing the true celebration back to his hometown.
In the late stages of his life, Cain and his wife moved to Bayou La Batre, Alabama, where he was buried.
Mobilians continued to celebrate Mardi Gras as Joe Cain would want.
In the 1960s, Julian Lee Rayford, a local author, was determined to make Mardi Gras open to everyone, not just the secluded mystic societies.
In 1966, he traveled to the gravesite of Cain and his wife and had them moved to Mobile, where he felt they belonged due to his major impact on Mardi Gras.
Due to the huge turnout, Rayford and locals decided to create an event to celebrate the life of Joe Cain, now known as Joe Cain Day.
Related Reading: History Of Mardi Gras King Cake – Click Here To Learn More.
Cain’s Merry Widows
On the Sunday before Fat Tuesday, Joe Cain Day, a women’s only society known as Cain’s Merry Widows, dress in all black starting at the Church Street Graveyard where Cain is buried.
They begin the festivities by laying a wreath on his tomb while wailing over “their departed husband.”
The women then travel to his former house on Augusta Street to offer a toast and eulogy in honor of their “beloved husband.”
History Behind the Queen of Mardi Gras
Originating in 1917, the selection of the Queen of Mardi Gras is a tradition well-known to members of various societies in Mobile.
This tradition is a tremendous honor for those selected, including the Queen’s luncheon hosted by the Mobile Carnival Association.
This event resembles a decadent wedding reception and is planned months in advance by the Queen.
Why all the MoonPies?
You can expect one thing during Mardi Gras- getting hit in the head with your favorite sweet treat, a MoonPie.
I’m sure you’ve wondered once, “How in the world did MoonPies become so popular in Mobile Mardi Gras?”
This holiday staple came about in the 1960s when float organizers were looking for something soft to throw other than the then-popular Cracker Jack boxes.
A group of ladies was roaming the streets of Chattanooga, TN, when they came across MoonPies.
After discovering these would make a softer throw, the ladies brought them to Mobile’s celebration.
This was the start of what is now the biggest tradition during Mardi Gras season here.
With all of these amazing traditions originating right here in our favorite city of Mobile, is there any wonder why the tourists flock to us each year?
We are the original home of Mardi Gras, and that’s what makes our already unique city what it is today.