Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday - Mardi Gras is Here!

City of New Orleans
Colorful masks are a Mardi Gras tradition.
It's Carnival!

Did you know that MARDI GRAS is considered America’s Greatest Party? The City of New Orleans celebrates a tradition that dates back at least a century. The celebration of Mardi Gras originated in Paris. In 1699, French explorer Iberville camped alongside the Mississippi River, about sixty miles south of New Orleans. He and his men decided to call the site where they landed, Point du Mardi Gras. 
Mardi Gras can be celebrated on any Tuesday from February 3 through March 9. Mardi Gras is celebrated 47 days before Easter, that's forty days of Lent and seven Sundays.
Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, and even Pancake Day in the UK. The celebrations begin on 12th February in 2013. Falling just before Lent, this marks the last opportunity for fun and feasting before 40 days of "self-denial". Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French.

Mardi Gras Indians                              

pancake day
Colorful costumes and parades
mark Mardi Gras tradition.
(Image from: http://www.neworleansonline.com)
Mardi Gras Indians are perhaps the most colorful and interesting part of Mardi Gras tradition. In the early days of Mardi Gras, African Americans participated in the parades by joining Native American "krewes". Their hand made and often elaborate costumes make this feature of Mardi Gras parades spectacular. Some costumes weigh over one hundred pounds!You just have to see the spectacular costumes they adorn in the parades! Make sure you have your cameras' batteries charged!

The City of New Orleans 

New Orleans is one of the most colorful cities in the United States, and is filled with cultural influences from Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. Visitors find a unique blend of food, music and culture all in one amazing place. There's no better place to hold a celebration like Mardi Gras.
From gumbo, Jambalaya, to the famous Beignets, the Big Easy makes it easy to tantalize the taste buds!, Home to the New Orleans Jazz Festival, this is the town to visit if you love jazz music. New Orleans is truly one of America's most culturally and historically-rich destinations
The parades actually start before Fat Tuesday, but on any day, you'll be able to find something to do. Sometimes there are several parades going on the same day, with different routes. Just wear comfortable shoes so you can walk the parade routes. Sometimes parades wind up lasting much longer due to stalling along the parade route! Families enjoy St. Charles Avenue between First Street and Napoleon Avenue. Most of the parade goers are families so the atmosphere is good, clean family fun. 
Catching beads and doubloons from floats are a wonderful experience, but not everyone is going to make the trip to New Orleans. If you travel to New Orleans, bring a bit of the Big Easy to you! Celebrate at home by making hats or decorations, and of course plenty of food! Food.com has an easy recipe for Beignets, a New Orleans favorite. 
craft projects
King Cake is another colorful Mardi Gras tradition.
Decorating with streamers and balloons in traditional Mardi Gras colors, yellow, purple and green is a great way to teach your kids about this great American tradition. Bake a king cake and see who gets the prize. 

Visit the website www.freekidscrafts.com/MardiGras to get some wonderful, fun templates to make your own masks before you departure. They are fun, easy to do craft projects for the kids if you can't take a Mardi Gras vacation. Have fun and enjoy Fat Tuesday!!!
Cindy Foley

Contributing Writer

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