Just in time for Mardi Gras, we’re bringing you a Mask Decorating Workshop:

*This event is 100% kid friendly!*

Masks for Mardi Gras & Music Education!

Step One: Decorate a Mask at Masque and Pettycote Costume Shop on Saturday, February 6th from 3-5pm. Bring your creativity and a desire to help local school kids play music! Choose from four different mask styles priced from $10 – $25. Proceeds to benefit local area school music programs.

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Step Two: Dig in your wardrobe and dust off your most fabulous glad rags! (Can’t find anything? See Step One and make sure to check out their amazing wardrobe inventory.)

Step Three: Put on that marvelous outfit, grab your mask, and make your way to The Fish Tale Brewpub on Fat Tuesday, February 9 from 5pm onward. All ages are welcome! This will be a

Mardi Gras celebration like Olympia has never seen! Entry fee, mementos, and special menu items will all go toward the purchase of band equipment for Olympia area schools.

The Andy Omdahl Band will be playing special jazz selections and New Orleans favorites. Watch out for the “second line” to get everyone out of their chairs and marching to the Mardi Gras beat! Bring your cash for beads and other special items to benefit band equipment in our local schools. Every kid should have the chance to play an instrument in school. Masque and Pettycote and Fish Tale Brewpub invite you to come out and help make the music happen for local area school kids!

Now, it wouldn’t be a Masque & Pettycote post if there weren’t a few historical tidbits now would there?

Mardi Gras is the largest masked party in the United States. Fat Tuesday is the celebration beginning after the Christian feast of the Epiphany–the celebration of Jesus’s physical manifestation to the wise men–and culminating the day before Ash Wednesday–which is the first day of Lent. Easter marks the end of Lent.  So, Mardi Gras falls right between the celebrations of Jesus’s birth and his trials & resurrection–right after a big party and right before a big fast.

In Medieval times Twelfth Night was the mark of the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve. It can happen before Twelfth Night (The twelfth day after Christmas) or on it. It represented the world turning upside down. All of the ruling class were peasants and visa versa. They ate a cake that had a bean hidden in it, and whoever got that bean would rule the feast. Midnight was the end of his rule and the world would turn back to normal.

Mardi Gras is celebrated different ways in different places but popular traditions include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, and debauchery.  Originally masks helped party goers to release the constraints of society and class.

Did you ever know The different kinds of masks that we see are very similar/influeneced Commedia Dell’Arte is a style of comedy play in Italy dating back to the 16th Century. Commedia Dell’Arte was a type of theatre where characters were represented as archetypes, based upon Italian stereotypes: for example, foolish old men, devious servants, or braggart military officers.

Stock Characters

Arlecchino was the most famous. He was an acrobat and a wit, childlike and amorous. He wore a cat–like mask and colorful diamond patch clothes and carried a bat or wooden sword.


Brighella, Arlecchino’s crony, was more roguish and sophisticated, a cowardly villain who would do anything for money.


Il Capitano (The Captain) was a caricature of the professional soldier—bold, swaggering, and cowardly.


Il Dottore (the doctor) was a caricature of pompous and fraudulent learning— His mask often resembles the plague masks which had a large beaked nose which men of medicine wore stuffed with aromatic herbs to ward off diseases.


Columbina was the beloved of Harlequin. A Witty, bright servant given to intrigue, she developed into such characters as Harlequine and Pierrette.


Masks outside of theatre

The use of masks in rituals or ceremonies is a very ancient human practice across the world, although masks can also be worn for protection, in hunting, in sports, in feasts, funerals, festivals or in wars – or simply used as ornamentation.

In Ancient Rome, the word persona meant “a mask”

Masks are sometimes used to avoid recognition. As a disguise the mask acts as a form of protection for the wearer who wishes to assume a role or task without being identified by others.

Decorative masks may be worn as part of a costume outside of ritual or ceremonial functions. This is often described as a masque, and relates closely to carnival styles. For example, attendants of a costume party will sometimes wear masks as part of their costumes.


photocredit: Giulia Guidi

The modern Bauta mask is worn for disguise. It has grotesque features (a large beak-like chin, a thick supraorbital ridge, and an over-prominent nose), and accommodates the wearer in drinking and eating without having the remove the mask. In the 18th century, it was worn with a black cape called tabarro and was regulated by the Venetian government. They were used in certain political decision-making events where anonymity was required.

Masks in ritual can transform the mundane

Mask used in carnival  of Venice comes from acts of defiance when the upper classes hid their faces to celebrate and raise mischief as the king had banned a celebration which did not celebrate the coming of lent, but Viennese independence.Ancient_Egyptian_funerary_mask_Louvre

In Egypt, masks covered the face of mummies which resembled the living person, so that that person’s spirit would be able to recognize it when the body and soul were united in the afterlife.  Egyptian priests wore masks to transform the wearer into an embodiment of the gods.

In Korea, masks are used to drive out evil spirits from the sick. In Korean color symbolism, white is for young characters, red for middle-aged and black for masks that represent characters of old age.

In China, masks are rooted in ancient shamanic rituals. Masks are used for exorcisms births and funerals. People wear “Sorcerer’s masks” during ceremonies that are held as welcome celebration of gods and spirits. These masks are also used in rituals that are held as prayers for a better future and during funerary rites to help souls rest peacefully. These masks originate from totemic worshiping of Yunnan and Guizhou.

Whether used for ritual festival or disguise, masks add a certain transformative element to the wearer that has kept them around for centuries. Can’t wait to see you on Saturday!








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