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Mardi Gras

If you recall, I learned a lot about Mardi Gras during my trip to Fairhope + Mobile last month.  Having grown up not in that area, I only knew Mardi Gras to be a day, not a season.  I knew there were three colors but had no idea why and did not understand the history or the seasonal significance.  Since my hostess, Nicole, is from Mobile, she could give me much of the history and encouraged me to dive in more for myself and my readers. 

Last month when I returned home from the trip, I wrote this post about King Cake.  I was intrigued by the Carnival season and why King Cake is enjoyed on Epiphany and the repeatedly during the season. My darling friend Caroline shared the images of her homemade cake with me, along with the photo of her middle daughter Margot, as the precious baby. Since then, I have craved King Cake and plan on enjoying one tomorrow for Mardi Gras. 

So, I set out to dive into all things Mardi Gras to understand its history, how it began, and why it is so special to so many. 

Mardi Gras origins can be traced back to Middle Age Europe and the 17th and 18th century French House of the Bourbons.  The tradition of  "Boeuf Gras," or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies. The fatted calf signified the coming Lenten season and its meat fast. On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville landed just south of New Orleans and named it "Pointe du Mardi Gras" having arrived on the eve of the festive holiday. Bienville also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane," now Mobile, in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America's first Mardi Gras. 

A year later, in 1704, the first secret society in Mobile was founded, very similar to the modern-day Mardi Gras krewes. The city of New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Bienville. By 1730 Mardi Gras was celebrated regularly, and in the early 1740s, the governor of Louisiana established elegant society balls and parties, which were the framework for the Mardi Gras balls today. Before 1840 New Orleans was celebrating with corteges of masked attendees in carriages and on horseback to celebrate the occasion. 

Mardi Gras uses three colors; purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for prosperity and wealth. It is always celebrated on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, and Lent, precisely 46 days before Easter.  Schools are closed for the week, and businesses close on Tuesday.  This celebration is days long.  I understand it is multiple parades, maybe even 6 or more per day during the season. The season of Carnival lasts from Epiphany until Ash Wednesday when the celebrating is over, and it is time to change courses for Lent. 

My question to you?  Do you celebrate?  Have you been to Mobile or New Orleans during Mardi Gras?  If you have, tell me everything!!

We will celebrate with King Cake for breakfast tomorrow and eat one of the meals suggested in this Southern Living article. I have a child with a shellfish allergy, so I must be creative!  The foil packet of red beans and rice sounds delish. And the bananas foster for dessert, yes, please!

Happy Monday to you ... and happy eve of Mardi Gras! 💜💚💛

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