Mardi Gras is just around the corner! Whether you visit New Orleans--home of the world's largest Mardi Gras party--or celebrate locally, there's a lot of fun to be had.
The words Mardi Gras are French for Fat Tuesday. For Catholics, this is the last day to enjoy special treats before Ash Wednesday ushers in Lent, a time of fasting and repentance that lasts until Easter Sunday. The good news is that you don't have to be any particular religion to enjoy Mardi Gras!
Along with being the day before Lent, Mardi Gras is also the last day of Carnival season that begins in some countries on January 6, the Twelfth Day of Christmas.
Everyone knows that colored beads thrown from floats are a symbol of Mardi Gras, but did you know that the day has three official colors, each one with a meaning? There's purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith. Special coins called doubloons are also thrown to parade spectators.
It was actually Mobile, Alabama--not New Orleans--that held the very first Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S. and which boasts the second biggest party after New Orleans.
New Orleans held its first Mardi Gras parade in 1837, and floats were added in 1857. Typically about 1.4 million people travel each year to experience a New Orleans Mardi Gras.
The day is a state holiday in Alabama, Florida and some specific parishes in New Orleans, so people there can really party hearty!
Ways To Celebrate
To create your own Mardi Gras, just think food and fun. Decorate your house with masks, feathers and beads in lots of colors. Speaking of beads, make sure you have tons on hand to give to guests the minute they walk in and require that they wear them.
Since it's called "Fat" Tuesday, have fun with food! Mardi Gras is known as Pancake Day in England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada because pancakes must be eaten as part of the celebration, so break out the griddle!
In other countries, a purple, gold and green wreath-shaped cake is baked with a figure of baby Jesus inside it. Whoever gets the piece with the figure will have good luck for the rest of the year.
How about getting your own chocolate doubloons to toss out to your guests? Or designate Fat Tuesday as the official time to indulge in one of our Chocolate Pretzel Pizzas--especially if you're giving up chocolate for Lent.
Whatever you choose to do, the true spirit of Mardi Gras is to share love and laughter with friends. There's no better celebration than that!
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