I believe I’ve written about how ladies dressed for their debuts (with pictures), but I don’t think I’ve talked much about how the guys who went to these things (and there were some accompanying the ladies) had to dress. Although I did describe it in The Bachelor, I go into more detail in A Duke for Diana. It’s fascinating, really, since they were all expected to dress in 18th-century attire, down to their powdered wigs and outdated coats! It would be sort of like having to wear jackets with big shoulder pads and Flock of Seagulls hair to a dressy event today. Oddly enough, they also had to carry ceremonial swords. Imagine dealing with those when normally if you carried something for protection, it was a pocket pistol. Below is a print that shows exactly how both sexes were expected to dress.
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One Mardi Gras custom that New Orleanians have in common with the people of Regency England is that of the King Cake. In the Regency it was served on Twelfth Night (January 5th), the night before Epiphany (January 6th), but in New Orleans it’s served on Epiphany/Kings’ Day (or as it’s called in some Catholic countries, Three Kings’ Day, for the Three Wise Men). In both Regency England and modern-day New Orleans, the cakes have something hidden inside—a bean or a coin for Twelfth Night cakes and a plastic baby for King Cakes. If you get the slice of a Twelfth Night cake containing the bean or coin, you’re designated king for the party. If you get the baby in a New Orleans King Cake, you have to bring King Cake to the next party (in offices, someone generally brings a King Cake every Friday, and sometimes every day, beginning on January 6th and going until Mardi Gras!). After Mardi Gras comes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. As you might imagine, after living in New Orleans for years, I felt quite at home with Regency England’s celebration of Twelfth Night and Epiphany!