Celebrate Mardi Gras! This history-rich festival makes for the perfect mid-winter party! With the death of winter upon us all, it’s time to gather friends and family and lift everyone out of their winter blues. Mardi Gras offers a festive and fun reason for a celebration! The season of Mardi Gras in the first centuries of Europe, extended from the end of Christmas to the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. It always began with the Feast of the Epiphany, the twelfth day after Christmas, and ended with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras in French means Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. It provided one last chance to eat, drink and have fun before the austerity of the Lenten season. Here in the United States, this celebration was introduced by the French and was first celebrated along the Mississippi River, near what is now New Orleans. This origin is what has established the strong connection between New Orleans and Mardi Gras. In 2010, the official Mardi Gras festivities take place on Tuesday, February 16, so you have plenty of time to start planning your own celebration.

So you have some history … now here are some tips to help you plan your own celebration. A Mardi Gras party is fun for all ages. It can be just as much fun for kids as it is for adults. Tailor your fun and games according to the age of your guests! Our family has made this party for children from 6 to 16 years old as well as adults.

The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold that represent justice, faith and power, as this was a festival rooted in both religion and monarchy. There have always been King and Queen Mardi Gras celebrations … so let your party include a way to choose from your guests. This can be done by seeing who collects the most Mardi Gras beads; gold coins, have the best costume or meet the Baby King, who is baked in the King’s cake. A king cake is a traditional dessert.

Invitations abound both online and in stores. Party stores carry all kinds of Mardi Gras decorations … so light up your home with these traditional colors on tablecloths, paper items, and banners or wall decorations. Buy a fun jazz CD or create an iPod playlist and let the music add to the atmosphere. Don’t forget to have tons of beads on hand so you can dress up all the guests.

The food for a Fat Tuesday party can be gumbo or jambalaya. Both are easy to do and always crowd pleasers. Any type of shrimp or crab sauce with some baguettes or French bread are welcome appetizers. If this is an adult party, you could throw a hurricane strike. The dessert must be the King Cake. This is a long recipe so my advice … buy or order one! Just make sure if the Baby King doll is baked in it, you will alert your guests. It is not necessary for someone to break a tooth when they first bite down. Tradition says that whoever finds the Baby King on his cake will receive a year of good luck. You can also make your own desserts and decorate with icing and sugars in festive purple and gold.

What can really add to your Mardi Gras celebration is fun games and activities. Check out Celebration Ideas online. for great games and activities that work for all ages. You’ll also find recipe recommendations and a creative DIY party invitation idea. So get going and plan your own Mardi Gras party!

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