Good-Bye Christmas...Hello Mardi Gras!

I suppose one of the great things about living in Louisiana is that there is not much post holiday depression here.  That is in part due to the fact that the party has not stopped for has just begun!  As quickly as we take down those red and green Christmas decorations, the purple, green and gold of Mardi Gras adorn our homes.

Truly, a catholic based holiday, down here in the deep south, we ALL have adopted this festive holiday.  Years ago, only New Orleans and areas very close to south Louisiana celebrated this holiday with its Balls and parades.  However, in recent years, we here in central Louisiana celebrate just as heartily as other areas in the state. may ask?  Well, for starters, Mardi Gras has its own school holiday.  Most state schools, have the Monday and Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) off...even the state colleges!  Hey, what better way to get rid of those "winter doldrums" than a little holiday in the midst of February.  Many people stay around for the festivities, but just as many also head to the slopes during this quick mid-winter break. 

Some of you may be familiar with the term Mardi Gras, but only as it is associated with New Orleans and a BIG party.  Actually, there is some rhyme and reason behind the festivities.  Although most of us begin putting up our Mardi Gras decorations as soon as we take the Christmas ones down (it's just easier that way), January 6th is the official beginning date of the season.  This is a celebration of the Twelfth Night Feast of the Epiphany; the time that is traditionally thought the 3 kings visited the Christ child.  It occurs 46 days before Easter, with parades taking place, quite frequently, the two weeks prior to Fat Tuesday.  Fat Tuesday is the "Big Blow-Out Day" before Ash Wednesday, which begins the Lenten season.  During Mass, the catholics have ashes smudged upon their foreheads, indicating that the Lenten season before Easter has begun. 

However, before Ash Wednesday and Lent arrives, there is LOTS going on down here in the south.  First, the round of King Cakes begin.  An oval-shaped, sugar coated confection with a little plastic baby stuffed inside makes it rounds among the party goers, with each person who finds that little baby tucked within their piece being responsible for providing the next cake.  In addition to the King Cake tradition comes the round of Mardi Gras Balls.  As soon as Christmas is over, the snacking stops and the dieting begins for most women, who are all out in full force searching for that perfect Mardi Gras formal.  Robby and I have been to a few of these over the years and they are great fun.  The evening is filled with food, drinking and dancing (usually to a live band) and ends in the early morning hours with a full hot breakfast; there is even a King and Queen at each Ball as well.  Yep!  We sure do know how to "Do it up BIG" here in the south.  And as I mentioned before, there are numerous adult and children's parades that take place before Fat Tuesday arrives.  The Krewes (a club that consists of women who are responsible for putting the Balls on and sponsoring the parades) climb aboard fantastic floats, throwing everything from colorful beads, doubloons (colored coins) and plastic cups to the literally thousands of people (over 100,000 here in our little town!) with their hands out saying, "Hey Mister, Throw Me Somethin'!"

Needless to say,  Mardi Gras is a festive, happy season here in Louisiana that we all look forward to each January and February.  So, as I write this, I have already hung the colored lights, wreaths and ribbons on my  front door, the first King Cake has been bought (and half eaten) and boutiques around town have already put out their new Mardi Gras decorations of the season. we here in Louisiana like to say, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!"...LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!!

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