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7 Things to Know About Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday (Plus Tips to Celebrate at Home!)

Mardi Gras!

Grab some beads, throw on some feathers, your most festive colors and get ready to celebrate Mardi Gras.

This upcoming Tuesday New Orleans will enjoy being party central and will be host to thousands at one of the biggest parties of the year. Besides their jazz music, their beignets, their Saints, and their cajun infused cuisine, N’awlins really is best known for their huge Mardi Gras celebration.

But it’s one of those events many of us take for granted, one of those things that just happens every year and we don’t ponder the why, when, how of it all. What’s the deal Mardi Gras? When is it, why is it celebrated, and what’s up with all the beads, the colors and that yummy King’s cake?

Here are seven things to know about Mardi Gras plus tips on how to celebrate at home. nggallery id=’123962′

  • To Start: What’s In a Name? What Mardi Gras Means. 1 of 7
    To Start: What's In a Name? What Mardi Gras Means.
    It means "Fat Tuesday." While many celebrate for days, Mardi Gras refers to just that one day.

    Image Souce Read the Spirit

  • When is it 2 of 7
    When is it
    Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday always falls 46 days before Easter. Although Fat Tuesday is just one day, many celebrate it during the three days before Fat Tuesday. While others use it as an excuse to party all week long. Ash Wednesday is also when Lent starts when practitioners give something up be it red meat, booze or swearing.

    Kid tip ask your child if there is anything they'd give up for a week. Keep track to see if they have the self control to resist.

  • How Old Is It? 3 of 7
    How Old Is It?
    Mardi Gras is old, really old. It apparently dates back thousands of years and has origins in pagan spring and fertility rites. It's celebrated worldwide, where it is better known as Carnival, and it's big with counties that have a large Roman Catholic population.

    Image Source: Moody's Collectibles

  • The Parade 4 of 7
    The Parade
    The biggest Mardi Gras event in North America? The Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. New Orleans has celebrated with a parade since 1830s. Their Krewes come together to build elaborate colorful floats, with dancing, music, and, of course, the throwing of beads.

    Kid Tip Go onto Pandora or the like, type in Professor Longhair, make some crowns, grab some beads, and have a parade around the house.

    Image Source: Morgue Files

  • Kings Cake 5 of 7
    Kings Cake
    The King's Cake is in reference to the biblical three kings. The cake actually has a season from the Solemnity of Epiphany (January 6th) that celebrated the Magi visiting Jesus. It goes all the way up to Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. The cake (in the Mardi Gras form) is twisted bread with an icing or sugar topping in purple, green and gold. A tiny trinket such as a tiny plastic baby Jesus doll is baked into the cake and the person who finds is obligated to provide the cake for the next year. Other traditions say that the woman who finds the baby, will actually have a baby in the next year. And some krewes in New Orleans use this as the selection process to name their next parade "monarch."

    Kid Tip Make one with your kids! Here are some recipes right here.

  • The Beads 6 of 7
    The Beads
    The plastic beaded necklaces that are thrown from the floats during the Mardi Gras parade have become a symbol of the event. There is the constant din of "throw me something, Mister!" along with women baring their breasts to make sure they're lucky enough to receive some bead love. According to lore, the beads were first thrown out to the spectators by the Rex krewe, and it was something that very much caught on. But the baring of the breasts? That's new and really has nothing to do with Mardi Gras. Plus, with so much being thrown from the floats, showing one's boobs doesn't really give you so much of an advantage.

    Kid Tip You know you have some of those plastic bead necklaces somewhere (they are a birthday favor bag favorite). Play catch with them or toss them and see how many times they can grab them.

    Image Source: Morgue Files

  • The Colors 7 of 7
    The Colors
    Mardi Gras is matched with a color scheme - purple, green, and gold. The colors hold a special meaning - "The purple, represents justice; the green symbolizes faith; and the gold exemplifies power." You'll see the colors on floats, costumes, beads and of course on the before mentioned King's cake.

    Kid Tip- Get purple, green and gold crayons. Have your kids do a piece of art with the color of justice, faith, and power.

    Image Source: Morgue Files

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Photo: Morgue File

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