Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

When I was a sophomore in high school, my French teacher hosted a Mardi Gras party for those of us in French Club. It was my first experience with the tradition of Mardi Gras and I FOUND THE BABY IN THE KING CAKE! SWEET!

And, that might not make any sense at all. So, let me explain a brief history of Mardi Gras and how I like to celebrate.

*Disclaimer: This is a hodge-podge of information I've gathered over the years. It is not exact and is explained in a fun and light-hearted way. If you find any of my information incorrect, then refer to this disclaimer where I am claiming that the information might not be exactly spot-on. JUST ENJOY THE CAKE.

Way back in the day, as in, you know, CENTURIES AGO, Mardi Gras was called something else hard to pronounce and was a pagan holiday full of revelry and such. BOO. Then, the Romans came along and decided to "Christianize" everyone (ha ha) but, being the sweet little empire they were, they allowed the people to keep some of their pagan holidays. Go figure. Mardi Gras (or whatever it was called back then) stuck. Over the years, the holiday has evolved as most holidays do, and in recent history as it traveled across the ocean to Louisiana, it has earned the name "Mardi Gras", which means Fat Tuesday. The slogan of Mardi Gras is Laissez les bon temps rouler! which is translated Let the good times roll! In European countries, it is referred to as Carnaval (Car-neh-vahl). There is still a lot of revelry and such. But, in keeping with Catholic influence, Mardi Gras falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, thus giving Lenten observers one last night to party before they begin a period of abstaining. Lent is the period of 40 days before Easter and is originally a Catholic tradition, although many Protestant denominations have adopted it as well. During the period of Lent, believers essentially "give up" something that serves as a vice to them (sweets, television, etc.) until Easter Sunday (different traditions observe it differently). The purpose is to cause observers to be reminded of Easter when they reach for whatever it is they have decided to give up and through your self-control, you reflect on Christ's sacrifice and the glory of His Resurrection.

A pretty good idea, in my opinion.

Okay, back to Mardi Gras.

My favorite tradition in Mardi Gras is the King Cake. A King Cake is basically a huge danish that can be flavored several different ways (I like cinnamon). Within the King Cake is buried a bean, traditionally, although several traditions now use a tiny plastic baby (I prefer the bean myself). Whoever finds the said potential choking hazard in their piece of King Cake is dubbed the King of Mardi Gras and is basically responsible for supplying the cake the following year. If you choose to do it that way. The King Cake is decorated with gold, purple, and green sugar, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras.

So, that is Mardi Gras a la Katie.

Now. Why do I even do a little celebration of Mardi Gras if it seems like it kind of goes against my general values, seeing as I'm basically a straight and narrow person?

Good question.

I liken it to Halloween. See, Halloween is kind of an evil awful holiday when you really think about it. One only has to shop at any grocery store during the end of summer to be barraged with skulls and devils and tombstones. Some really get into Halloween and all of the creepy stuff it can entail, while others just like to dress up and eat candy. Even churches sponsor events like that. That's how I view Mardi Gras. I don't indulge in revelry. But I like to get friends together and eat funky cake and wear masks and beads. So that's what we do.

And, I'm a fan of Lent. And while I don't revel in self-indulgence, I do savor every bite of cake, knowing it will be my last for a little while!

The three masked pregnant ladies.

The King Cake. I ordered it from a local bakery this year and it was DELICIOUS!

Today is Ash Wednesday. Lent has begun.

Have a lovely day!


  1. Lovely cake and lovely masked pregnant ladies :) I don't know what to give up for lent. What have you done in the past? I usually give up sugar, but I'm weak this year. Don't know if I can do it.

  2. I've never recognized Lent...not sure why.

    How fun to all be pregnant at the same time! Looks like fun and good lookin' cake!

  3. And what a fun party it was, complete with a short history lesson, cake, and masks! And babies playing with beads!! ;) Thanks for hosting, friend!

  4. I saw the King Cakes at Merrits a few weeks ago and thought of you! Looks delish! :)

  5. I ate way too much which means it really was a great party! thanks for hosting (and for the gorgeous masks! I can't wait to wear it again...or let Audrey wear it around the house.) :)