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jade hookSAVE 20% WITH SAVE20 COUPON for this and anything else in the shop. This is a lovely hand-carved pendant of natural Nephrite Jade from New Zealand. The hei matu, or fish hook, has endured since pre-colonial times (prior to the 18th century) and symbolizes abundance, and a respect for sea. The design represents the special relationship Maori people have with fishing (historically they lived from fisheries and depended on the sea for food gathering) and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Designs range from the ultra-realistic through to more conceptual styles, and wearing one is said to bring good fortune when traveling across oceans.

This beautiful piece measures approx. 45 mm long (approx.. 1 3/4") x approx. 23 mm. (just shy of 1") at its widest point. Thickness is approx. 3 mm. Hole at top for hanging is approx. 3 mm. wide.

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mardi gras beadsSince I was born and raised (during my early years) in New Orleans, Mardi Gras has always been an important event in my life. And Mardi Gras beads are an essential part of that experience! Every March in New Orleans, crowds of people line up at the parades to catch as many beaded necklaces as their necks can hold.

These parades typically run throughout the Carnival season, which officially begins on January 6 (the Twelfth Night of Christmas). The carnival season ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent. Back in the 1800’s, sugar-coated almonds were thrown into the crowd – in a tradition similar to the festival customs of the English Renaissance era.

In the late 1800’s, the tradition of bead-throwing began. Inexpensive necklaces of glass beads were an instant hit among locals and tourists alike. Legend has it that a man dressed up as Santa Claus was the first person in a New Orleans parade to use the beads in his costume. Other tourists soon followed his lead, and now many continue to decorate themselves with bead necklaces at Mardi-Gras time.

By 1900, over 100,000 tourists traveled to New Orleans to participate in the celebration and to get some of their own Mardi Gras beads. Over the years, other Mardi Gras souvenirs have also been passed out to the crowds during the parades – including plastic cups, toys, Frisbees, figurines, and doubloons.

Despite all of these other souvenirs, bead necklaces remain the most popular trinket passed out during the celebration. Today, Mardi Gras beads can be found in various sizes, shapes, and colors. The most popular size today is about thirty three inches long. They are also now made with cheaper and safer materials like plastic and aluminum rather than glass. Traditional Mardi Gras beads are purple, green, and gold colors. The purple symbolizes justice; the green represents faith; and the gold signifies power.

If you are participating in the Mardi Gras carnival this year or hosting your own Mardi Gras party, make sure you get plenty of colorful beads!

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