What do good food, loud music, shiny costumes, and fun all have in common? MARDI GRAS! Mardi Gras, which means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French, is a time to eat and party before the religious season of Lent. Originating in New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 1600s, it has extended beyond religious reasons and into a cultural celebration centered around food and fun all over the world! Combining old and new traditions makes it an exciting holiday for everyone to celebrate!
Mardi Gras does not always get the reputation of being kid friendly. Aside from the craziness that is typically displayed on social media or news outlets, there are many ways to come together to participate in the party. While the major Mardi Gras parties take place in New Orleans, we have put together a list of activities that you can do with your children to plan a super fun Carnival celebration right at home!
Celebrate with A Taste of New Orleans
New Orleans dishes are rooted in culture and history. Their distinct cuisine features a mix of African, Cajun, Creole, Caribbean, French, Southern, and Spanish inspired recipes due to its geographical location. Most of their food is seasoned and marinated with spices and rich sauces to create a savory dish. Try out the recipes for Mardi Gras below to make your own NOLA-inspired meal!
Mardi Gras is symbolized by the colors purple, green, and gold. They represent justice, faith, and power! Here are a couple sweet ways to display these colors during your celebration!
Bake a King Cake: This is the perfect treat to decorate in purple, green, and gold! The cake is formed into a circular braid to represent a king’s crown. Baked inside each cake is a tiny plastic toy that represents the baby Jesus. It is said that whomever finds the toy will have good fortune and must host the next Mardi Gras party! You can also buy a king cake at your neighborhood Giant Eagle! Learn more.
Cupcake Creations: You could make a simplified version of the classic king cake by baking cupcakes! Get festive by topping them with purple, green, and yellow icing or white icing with colored sprinkles!
Chocolate Covered Pretzels: Incorporate the spirited colors of Mardi Gras with colored chocolate! Melt white chocolate and add your desired amount of food coloring. Then take large pretzel sticks and dip them into the chocolate. Place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and store in the refrigerator to chill. You can even add fun sprinkles and edible glitter!
Mardi Gras is commonly characterized by masquerade masks and bead necklaces. Work together to make festive crafts out of the simplest household item: paper plates! General supplies that can be used to decorate include paint, feathers, glitter, beads, and macaroni!
Paper Plate Crown: Begin by drawing consecutive triangles, starting an inch from the edge, to make your crown shape. Cut out the shape from the middle of the plate (do not cut through edge) and fold each triangle so they stand upright. If too big, cut the edge of the paper plate vertically and slide the ends together to get the perfect size; attach with staples. Personalize the crown with colorful decorations!
Paper Plate Noise Maker: Simply fold the paper plate in half, fill the middle with beads, or any small object, staple together around the edges, and then decorate the outside! You’ll be left with a fun shaker to march around the house with like you’re in a real NOLA band!
Paper Plate Mask: From the paper plate, cut out a designated shape for your mask. Paint and decorate your mask, adding fun items like feathers and glitter! Tape a wooden stick to one side of the mask to hold to your face or place small holes on either edge and feed string or yarn through to create a head strap.