The thing I miss most about living down South, besides the beach, is Mardi Gras. Once you’ve experienced living where they truly celebrate Mardi Gras and all that it represents you will understand what I mean. There are lots and lots of parties and most are formal and by invitation only. The parades go on for days and the beads, beads, beads!
Mardi Gras parties are steadily creeping up from the South and gaining popularity. Tasting the Cajun cuisines, hearing the Zydeco music, and seeing the bright colors makes you want to experience it again and again. Reliving Mardi Gras and celebrating the southern tradition creates an exciting evening! It’s also nice that it falls right in the middle of winter, so it gives a reprieve to the cold and dreary days. You can enjoy it with 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 and the traditional color of purple that represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power and last, but most important are 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. The tradition is that the person who finds 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:
PHOTO CREDIT: projectforpreschoolers.com
- 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.
PHOTO CREDIT: www.neworleansmomsblog.com
- Host a shoebox parade. Save shoe boxes or ask guests to bring a shoebox 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. For details on how to make the perfect shoebox parade float, check out neworleansmomsblog.com.
Get yourself on down to Party Place for all your Mardi Gras party goods!