The nineteenth century saw the Mardi Gras celebration banned, but when it were restored in New Orleans in the 1820s it was a great equalizing force, allowing African-Americans -- many of them still slaves -- the freedom to drum and celebrate in ways they were unable to almost anywhere else or at any other time (Carnaval 2000). The celebrations are still a great equalizer, brining together people of all classes and backgrounds in a raucous celebration of life. To enhance these celebrations, many traditions were formed in the New Orleans Mardi Gras that persist to this day. The parade is one of the most well-known, and involves large, colorful floats and crowds of costumed dancers, and of course the traditional flambeaux carriers. These torch bearers used to be slaves and free men of color, and they were necessary to light the parade so that the spectators could see; though less necessary now, it is still custom to toss them coins for their troubles as they dance and cavort alongside the parade with tall torches, bringing not just light but the excitement (and danger) of fire to the modern Mardi Gras festivities (New Orleans Tourism Marketing Co. 2009).
One of the most well-known aspects of the modern Mardi Gras celebration is the throwing of beads and other trinkets from the parade krewes (groups and organizations that have floats in the parade) to the crowd of spectators. This was started in 1870 by the Twelfth Night krewe, and was quickly taken up by other groups, each of whom throws their own unique trinkets (Mardi Gras New Orleans 2009). Contrary to popular belief (and wishful thinking) however, the baring of breasts by women to get beads is not actually a part of the Mardi Gras tradition, but is simply the result of a lot of drunken college students losing their inhibitions and doing whatever they can to draw attention to themselves (Mardi Gras New Orleans 2009).
Something that definitely is a part of the Mardi Gras tradition is the King Cakes. This pastry has a complex origins, again beginning with the Twelfth Night Revelers, who crowned a Lord of Misrule who is presented with a large fake cake (Mardi Gras Unmasked 1998). Single women are then invited by name to dance with members of the krewe, and some of them are presented with pieces of cake while others receives beans; the woman who gets the golden bean is crowned Queen (Mardi Gras Unmasked 1998). This tradition dates back many centuries in one form or another; many cultures still have traditions on Easter or Christmas where a coin or other trinket is baked into a cake or old-style
Sparks, Randy. "American Sodom: New Orleans Faces Its Critics and an Uncertain Future." Nuevo Mundo. 2005.
Johnson, Merill L. "Geographical Reflections on the 'New' New Orleans in the Post-Hurricane Katrina Era." The Geographical Review. Vol. 96. 2006.
Mardi Gras: New Orleans. "2009: Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans!" 2008.
There is even a lack of conclusive evidence that free trade and a global economy actually serves poorer countries well as entities in and of themselves. As Kapur points out, "global financial markets bring high risks and high rewards," and though poorer countries have more to gain they are less capable of handling risk (1998, pp. 120). The recent global financial crisis is indicative of the greater risks these countries bear, and the poorer citizens of the world are certain to be hit the hardest by slowdowns in production and consumption. Proponents of globalization argue that moving manufacturing to underdeveloped countries affords their workers opportunities for growth that were not present before, but the lack of regulation that these countries purposefully mandate in order to attract business allows for a complete lack of protection and exploitation of the workforce. Things might be good for these workers when the global economy is growing, then, but they will be the first and hardest hit by any problems or corrections the economy undergoes.
Globalization might be good during prosperity, but the negative effects of free trade are hugely magnified by economic downturns. If countries and workforces are regularly decimated by the global economy after losing the self-sufficiency of their pre-modern economies, it can hardly be suggested that globalization is a good thing overall. Only a system that leaves these countries essentially intact in all economic conditions is truly beneficial.