Growing up, I always looked forward to celebrating Mardi Gras every year. No matter where we were living at the time, there always was a Mardi Gras celebration close by that me and my family would attend. With my family origins and roots being in Louisiana (specifically Shreveport, not everyone from Louisiana is from New Orleans!), attending those celebrations always made us feel closer to home and our culture, no matter where in the world we were living at the time. If you didn’t know Fat Tuesday is a LEGAL holiday in Louisiana, so its kind of a big deal to us. Not in New Orleans to celebrate this faithful holiday? I’ll let you know a few ways you can celebrate Fat Tuesday in your town but FIRST, a history lesson…
Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras has a looooooonnnnnnggggg history but one thing I always remembered about the history of Mardi Gras is the colors and what they stand for. Purple, Green, and Gold. Purple stands for Justice, Green is for Faith and Gold is for Power. The colors of the King cake. The rest of this history lesson will be brought you by History.com
A Christian holiday and popular cultural phenomenon, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. Also known as Carnival, it is celebrated in many countries around the world–mainly those with large Roman Catholic populations–on the day before the religious season of Lent begins. Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.
Origins of Mardi Gras
According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.
Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the meat, eggs, milk and cheese that remained in their homes, preparing for several weeks of eating only fish and fasting. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.” The word “carnival,” another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, may also derive from this vegetarian-unfriendly custom: in Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat.
Now that we got the history out the way and you know what you’re celebrating, here’s a few tips on HOW to celebrate Fat Tuesday like a boss!
Get Artsy and Make a Mask
The best part for me as a kid celebrating Fat Tuesday was making a mask. Let your creative juices flow and go crazy. Add feathers, glitter…whatever you heart desires. Just remember to incorporate those 3 colors!
Make a King Cake
King cake is SO FREAKIN’ GOOD and easy to make. Like seriously…IT’S GOOD. Here’s a recipe.
Eat Lots of Food
Today is NOT the day to worry about your diet. Eat whatever you want until you are so stuffed and can’t eat anymore. Then give it all up for Lent.
Have a Daiquiri
Our drink of choice in Louisiana is a good ol’ daiquiri and every time I’m home I drink at least 3 (or 4) of those a day. On Fat Tuesday, get together with some friends make your own daiquiri’s as the ones in the store usually aren’t as great (just being honest! lol).
Have a Party and Join a 2nd Line
Fat Tuesday is all about having a good time so the best way is to host a party (or join one! Here’s a list of what’s happening on Fat Tuesday in Chicago) and if you’re up for randomly parading down your block with music then go for it. The key here is to just let loose and have FUN!
Man this post has me missing home! Best believe I will be doing some form of celebrating today. It’s the one day of the year where you know everyone EVERYWHERE is partying no matter where you are! Do you guys have plans for Fat Tuesday? Tweet me so I can join in on the fun!