Five facts about Mardi Gras

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Ah, Mardi Gras, another celebratory reason to get in the kitchen and cook a little treat!

Before we talk about my favorite part of the celebration (yes, the King cake), here are five facts about Mardi Gras you might not yet know -I learned a lot while prepping this post! (Don’t believe me? Websites are cited at the end of the post!)

Five facts…did you know?

  1. It’s a celebration lasting more than a day: Carnaval is the period of celebration beginning la fête des rois (Epiphany) and ending Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).
  1. Mobile, Alabama was the site of the first Mardi Gras celebration, in 1699.  A French Canadian explorer, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville discovered, named Point-du-Mardi-Gras, and celebrated there in 1699.
  1. New Orleans began celebrating Mardi Gras in 1857. Fun side anecdote: In the summer of my tenth year, our family visited New Orleans. Although it was not Mardi Gras, we still got a taste of it by visiting Mardi Gras World. We tried on the masks, the costumes, and saw the floats. I’ll always remember Dad with a Joe Cool Camel head and my mom, sister, and I wearing Cinderella inspired headdresses. I will look for the 3×5 prints later and perhaps add them here!
  1. It’s the law: legally speaking, (in New Orleans) if you’re on a float you must wear a mask; for Mardi Gras (one day only!), revelers are allowed to wear masks.
  1. King Cake is a typically American traditional dessert for Mardi Gras. In France, it is tradition to have crêpes (very thin pancakes), gauffres (waffles), and beignets (donuts). I remember always eating pancakes at church Shrove Tuesday dinners…the reason for crêpes, pancakes, gauffres, and beignets is because (according to the Christian season of Lent) people were trying to clean their pantries of all of the “fats” that were forbidden during the Lenten period – ingredients such as butter, eggs, milk.

Weather forecasting

Like Chandeleur, Mardi Gras has some well known sayings that mention weather:

Mardi Gras sous la pluie, l’hiver s’enfuit  

Fat Tuesday under the rain, winter runs away.

A mardi Gras, l’hiver s’en va 

On Fat Tuesday, winter leaves.

Mardi gras pluvieux, fait le cellier huileux 

Rainy Fat Tuesday fills the larder/pantry.

After this last bout of winter weather I am ready for spring! I think we have at least a few weeks of winter left, but I can be hopeful right?

King cake

We made our King cake on Valentine’s Day, and MC really enjoyed watching the yeast foam, the milk boil and bubble, and the dough rise. It was the perfect edible science experiment.

My jaw dropped at first glance of the recipe– it made two cakes, and served 16 people total! I decided to make the full recipe, quarter it (for four people each cake), and freeze three for later. I am usually the only one to eat sweets and I thought I should pace myself.

Activities

The plan for today is to make some party crackers, thanks to a tutorial from Tête à Modeler. If they turn out, I’ll post them online later today!

We might decorate the outside with stickers left over from this month’s Toupie magazine competition – to make a Monsieur Carnaval. MC was very modest in her use of stickers this time around. (see below!)

There is also a little comptine (nursery rhyme) about Mardi Gras, again from Tête à Modeler. It’s a cute little song telling Mardi Gras not to go, that we will make him crêpes. Then it recounts the crêpe’s misadventures when getting flipped- she ends up in the soup, on the ceiling, in the dust, on my head, and on a lamp post.

What is your favorite Mardi Gras tradition?

Websites:

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