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Mardi Gras Traditions

Celebrate Fat Tuesday at home with ideas from around the world.

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Mardi Gras family-friendly celebration & recipes

Mardi Gras for All

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 family-friendly celebration

Mardi Gras Family-Friendly Celebration
Mardi Gras does not always get the reputation of being kid friendly. While the major Mardi Gras parties take place in New Orleans, you can easily create a festive Fat Tuesday atmosphere at home with the whole family. Why stop at NOLA-style celebrations, though, when you can bring traditions from around the globe right to your home. We’ve put together a list of staples from New Orleans along with international delicacies so you can properly indulge.

Colors of Mardi Gras

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!

Carnival Crafts

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.

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.

No discussion of New Orleanian food would be complete without jambalaya. You don’t have to be celebrating Mardi Gras to enjoy this easy, one-pot comfort food either. Just check out our advice on making your own jambalaya bar.

Big Easy Recipes

Shrimp Po' Boy

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Red Beans and Rice

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New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp

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Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

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Cajun Chicken with Jalapeño Cheese Sauce

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Jambalaya One-Pot Pasta

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Classic Jambalaya

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King Cake Monkey Bread

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Chocolate Chip Beignets

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Pancake Day in the UK
In Britain and other traditionally Christian countries, the day before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday or, more deliciously, Pancake Day. Similar to Mardi Gras, it came about as the last chance to use up eggs, butter, and other fats before Lent. Those indulgent ingredients are used to make thin, crepe-like pancakes that are topped in syrup or other sweet concoctions.

Shrove Tuesday Lemon Crepes
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Have Some More Semlor
In Sweden, Fat Tuesday, or Fettisdagen, is celebrated with semlor. For centuries, they’ve made these treats by taking a wheat bun flavored with cardamom, cutting the top off, and filling the bottom with almond paste before topping with whipped cream. The cap of each semla is then placed back on and sprinkled with powdered sugar. This same tradition is carried out in places like Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and, before long, your house.

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Fat Thursday Paczki
In Poland, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday is the traditional sweet-fueled celebration. That should give you plenty of time to enjoy all the paczki you can handle. The fried dough filled with fruit or cream is a confection that can’t be missed.