[2/16/21] – Yardi Gras 2021

Mardi Gras dates back to 1699 in the United States…and did not take place in New Orleans. New Orleans eventually became the home to the annual celebration of life and beginning in 1837, public parades become a central component to this festival of the senses. Since then, Mardi Gras has only been canceled 14 times for reasons ranging from war to mob violence. This Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, the peak of this week-long celebration, New Orleans prepares for their 15th cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as with most all other social gatherings, citizens of the Crescent City pivoted and instead of a street parade of fantastically decorated floats, they are reimagining their homes as floats in an effort to preserve this tradition. Dubbed Yardi Gras, homes are being transformed into physical representations of artistic expressions of appreciation for the world’s largest free party. In this week’s Lecture Spark, we look at the trend of Yardi Gras through the lens of sociology. Specifically, we use the concepts of social cohesion, conspicuous consumption, deviance, and culture.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Yardi Gras 2021

Learning Objectives

LO1: Discuss the social and cultural costs and benefits of transitioning to Yardi Gras for New Orleans residents.

LO2: Explain what structural factors such as economy and government contributed to the transition to Yardi Gras.

LO3: Analyze the relationship among Mardi Gras and the social identity of New Orleans residents.


New Orleans Celebrates Yardi Gras Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Yardi Gras is NOLA’s pandemic-safe version of Mardi Gras — and we are here for it 🎉

How New Orleans Turned Mardi Gras Into ‘Yardi Gras’ | TODAY

After the pandemic canceled traditional Mardi Gras parades and celebrations, residents of New Orleans and beyond decided to keep the Mardi Gras spirit alive with house floats.

A unique Carnival season begins in New Orleans

A unique Carnival season begins in New Orleans.

Discussion Questions

How might Yardi Gras expose social class disparities in New Orleans? Why might some households opt to create an opulent and expensive display? What messages are groups attempting to communicate when they choose to invest potentially thousands of dollars in decorating their home? How might those most likely to flaunt their spending use Yardi Gras to communication their status?

How does Yardi Gras serve as an opportunity for social cohesion among the citizens of New Orleans? What social benefits are possible for households that opt to participate in this celebration? What social consequences are possible for households that are unable to participate for reasons of lack of financial resources?

Why is Mardi Gras so popular that an entire city would (for the most part) collectively come together to preserve the tradition of the Mardi Gras parade? What is the benefit of celebrating a social event that is historically among the most forgiving of often extraordinarily deviant behavior? How does Yardi Gras support the tradition of deviance during Mardi Gras? How would the definition of New Orleans change in the absence of Mardi Gras?

What elements of American culture are reflected in the transition from Mardi Gras to Yardi Gras? What groups stand to benefit the most from the preservation of Mardi Gras this year? What groups are most likely to suffer as Mardi Gras transitions to people’s homes? How might Yardi Gras change the cultural definition of Mardi Gras moving forward? How might the COVID-19 pandemic change social gatherings like Mardi Gras permanently?

How does a cultural phenomenon like Mardi Gras serve to galvanize a community of citizens? Why might New Orleans citizens feel so compelled to participate in such a large-scale celebration of life, especially right now? What does the perseverance of New Orleans residents to maintain their storied celebration of decadence and chaos say about the meaning they find in the celebration of Mardi Gras?


A sociologist using the _______ perspective would likely argue that Yardi Gras has a stabilizing effect on the New Orleans community through paying out of work artists to decorate homes, decreasing the waste produced on this day, and promoting a sense of unity in the community.

a. Functionalist
b. Conflict
c. Symbolic-Interactionist
d. Rational Choice

A sociologist using the _______ perspective would likely focus their attention on the decision-making process individuals go through when determining if the benefits of participating in Yardi Gras outweigh the costs.

a. Functionalist
b. Conflict
c. Symbolic-Interactionist
d. Rational Choice

Sociologists refer to the practice of purchasing lavish decorations and festoons to turn their home into a Mardi Gras parade float for reasons of communicating one’s social class as _______.

a. Compulsive shopping
b. Retail therapy
c. Conspicuous consumption
d. Social stratification

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/rustyl3599

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