The thing I miss most about living down South, besides the beach, is Mardi Gras. If you’ve ever lived where Mardi Gras is celebrated to the fullest and all that it represents you will understand what I mean. Tasting the Cajun cuisines, hearing the Zydeco music, and seeing the bright colors makes you want to experience it again and again.
Mardi Gras parties are steadily creeping up from the South and gaining popularity in the northern states. Mardi Gras can be enjoyed a group of friends or a simple family gathering—either way it’s worth celebrating.
“What’s all the fuss about,” you ask. ‘Mardi’ is French for Tuesday and ‘gras’ is French for fat. This is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian season of Lent—46 days before Easter. Many Christians fast during Lent, refrain from eating meat on Fridays, and/or rich foods containing, eggs sugar, butter and milk. So Mardi Gras season is a time to eat decadently and feast anytime following the Twelfth Night after Christmas or another name for it is the Epiphany.
Mardi Gras themed parties are some of the least expensive and easiest to decorate. Must haves for a party are masks, traditional colors—purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power—beads, beads, and more beads!
The food can be a bit more involved as many of the traditional cuisines require a lot of ingredients, but well worth it! Traditional menu items are Jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, and anything else Cajun. My menu this year is consisting of Grits a Ya Ya, Jambalaya, red beans and rice, and, of course, a King Cake with a little tiny Baby Jesus hidden inside for someone to find. The person who gets the baby Jesus will have good luck for the rest of the year.
I have compiled a few Mardi Gras family fun ideas for you:
- Kids can make their own masks from paper plates. Cut eye holes and attach ribbon for tying on or tape on bamboo sticks for handheld masks before decorating. All you need are markers, stickers, beads, and feathers along with scissors and glue.
- Host a shoebox parade. Save shoe boxes or ask guests to bring a shoe box to
decorate. Take the lid off and turn the box upside down to decorate. Slip the lid onto the side of the box to create the back of the float. Give the kids paint, glue, feathers, jewels, markers, and let them create their own Mardi Gras magic.
I hope you will incorporate a little Mardi Gras into your Fat Tuesday and laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll)!