Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Mardi Gras/ Fat Tuesday can be traced back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. The holiday, known as Carnival in most places, is celebrated around the world in countries where the religion is predominately Roman Catholic.
Mardi Gras celebrations made their way across the deep blue to America in the late 1600s by French explorers. Small festivals were held in Louisiana, however, over the years the celebration grew to New Orleans and became bigger and better!
The first parade is thought to have occurred on Fat Tuesday in 1827 with a group of students emulating what they saw while visiting Paris. The first official parade took place ten years later in 1837 and has continued to this day. As years passed, Mardi Gras customs grew to include throwing of beads, wearing of masks, decorating of floats, and eating of King Cake.
Available only during the Mardi Gras season, king cake is typically made with a special dough called brioche. The dough is braided and sprinkled with cinnamon, then glazed with purple, green and gold sugar and covered in icing in those same Mardi Gras colors. A small plastic baby hidden (baked) inside. Whoever finds the baby in his or her slice must buy the next cake or perhaps host the next party.