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6 Things To Do On Mardi Gras

Celebrate Fat Tuesday to the fullest!

Feb 21, 2020

Mardi Gras, also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, falls on February 25th this year.  Marked by parties and parades, it’s celebrated around the world.  It’s most famous in New Orleans, Louisiana, existing there since the 1700’s.  Every year, millions visit New Orleans for the holiday.  If you’re not one of them, bring the celebration back to you!  Here are some awesome ways to partake in the fun.

Mardi Gras, also called Fat Tuesday, is on February 25th this year.Mardi Gras, also called Fat Tuesday, is on February 25th this year.

1. Make a king cake

On Fat Tuesday, king cake is a must!  The day is all about indulging in sweets and treats before Lent, the 40-day Christian fasting period, begins.  The cake is decorated purple, green and gold, and is round-shaped to look like a crown.  It’s usually made of a sweet bread dough with filling and baked with a plastic baby figure hidden inside.  Whoever gets the slice hiding the baby becomes “king” of the celebration.

In some cultures, the plastic baby signifies the baby Jesus.In some cultures, the plastic baby signifies the baby Jesus.

Do a simple Google or Pinterest search to find dozens of king cake recipes.  There’s even a shortcut recipe using pre-made crescent rolls.  If you don’t have a plastic baby on hand, no worries.  Use a dried bean—which is what people used before plastic babies were invented!

2. Eat traditional New Orleans foods

Jambalaya is a classic Cajun dish featuring sausage, rice and lots of zesty flavors.Jambalaya is a classic Cajun dish featuring sausage, rice and lots of zesty flavors.

Mardi Gras is all about food, and New Orleans cuisine is a delicious combination of multiple cultures and traditions, including Cajun.  Cajun is a southern Louisiana community that descended from French Catholic settlers, and the Cajuns are known for their folk music and delicious spicy foods.  Get your sense of adventure on and try a food off this list:

  • Crawfish etouffee
  • Dirty rice
  • Jambalaya
  • Beignets
  • Red beans and rice
  • Gumbo
  • Po’ Boy sandwiches

Shrimp Po' Boy sandwiches are common in Louisiana, but you can also make them with other seafood.Shrimp Po' Boy sandwiches are common in Louisiana, but you can also make them with other seafood.

3. Eat pancakes

Okay, so you’re not the most adventurous with food—It’s all good.  Eat pancakes!  Yes, pancakes are also part of the Mardi Gras tradition.  People ate pancakes on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, to use up their eggs, milk and sugar before the fasting season.  Fasting emphasizes eating plainer foods (aka, fewer rich foods and desserts).  Celebrate Fat Tuesday with a tall stack of colorful steaming pancakes!  Go all-out and use sprinkles and frosting.

What better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday than with pancakes?What better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday than with pancakes?

4. Dress up

In Louisiana, Mardi Gras is an official holiday.  If you’re not bedazzled in purple, green and gold in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, you’ll be the one standing out from the crowd.  Grab some colorful beads or make a Mardi Gras mask and join in from afar.  The colors on those bead necklaces, which are traditionally thrown off Mardi Gras parade floats to parade-goers, signify the themes of justice (purple), friendship (green) and purity or power (gold).

Every year, millions flock to New Orleans for the mid-winter Mardi Gras celebration.Every year, millions flock to New Orleans for the mid-winter Mardi Gras celebration.

And don’t forget your mask! It’s illegal in New Orleans to even step foot on a float during the parade without a mask (for real).  Masquerading during Mardi Gras parties first began as a way for people to become whoever they wanted for a day and to mingle with people who they may not talk to normally. 

On Mardi Gras, a mask and some beads are a must.On Mardi Gras, a mask and some beads are a must.

5. Make a jazz playlist

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz music.  Try listening to some authentic New Orleans brass music, some classic Louis Armstrong, or some funk.  Go even more traditional with zydeco.  Zydeco music blends blues, French and Caribbean music and features the guitar, washboard and accordion. 

Born in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong is arguably the most influential jazz musician in history.Born in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong is arguably the most influential jazz musician in history.

6. Have your friends over

What better way to celebrate than with a party

  • Decorate with purple, green and gold
  • Hand everyone beads when they come through your door.
  • Serve king cake, pancakes or beignets.
  • Play jazz music.
  • Have a mask-making station complete with supplies like feathers, glitter and sequins.
  • Ask guests to dress up in costume and have a prize for the best dressed.

Serve king cake to your party guests.Serve king cake to your party guests.
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Do you celebrate Mardi Gras?  If so, how?  Tell Kidzworld in the space below!