Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Festive Reasons to Celebrate Mardi Gras in NOLA

Every year I say “next year I’ll go to Mardi Gras,” and every year I fail epically at making that happen. What money I do manage to save in a year goes towards my annual trip abroad, and I only have 10 vacation days a year (oh, the joys of being a little fish in a big pond) so, unfortunately, it’ll probably be a few more years before I can make my trip happen. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t dream about it and live vicariously through my friend who makes her annual pilgrimage to NOLA for Mardi Gras. Color me very jealous!

So, in honor of Mardi Gras, here is my list (yes, another one!) of 5 reasons why I desperately want to be a Mardi Gras reveler at least once in my life, in no particular order:
  1. King Cake. For anyone with a sweet tooth, King Cake is a glorious Mardi Gras tradition. The cake itself is like a Danish that is slathered in icing and garish Mardi Gras colored sprinkles and colored sugar. My friend sends me one from Randazzo each year that I singlehandedly devour (step away from the King Cake, parentals!). Randazzo is famous for their King Cakes and I certainly think that they’ve earned that praise. If you actually share your cake with others, then someone will find a baby figurine in their slice, and then you're supposed to bring a new King Cake next week. 
  2. Krewes. Although I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, I’ve heard plenty about the krewes. Think of them as fraternities for New Orleanians who spearhead the festivities. They put on the parades (and all the swag that gets thrown during the parades), host balls and parties, and are generally the life of the Mardi Gras party. Would Mardi Gras be the same without them? Nope!
  3. New Orleans. There are just some places in the world that are so one of a kind that you need to experience them first hand. New Orleans has such a rich history and vibrant flavor that it can’t be mistake for another US city. New Orleans is New Orleans in the same way that New York is New York, London is London, and Paris is Paris, if that makes any sense. It’s a city that I want to visit because I’d love to see the architecture, taste the food, hear the music, and just drink up the culture.
  4. Well-intentioned debauchery. Mardi Gras is one big party, a month long party actually. It’s all about the parades, the food, the booze, and the general public being more than a little bit raucous. It sounds like a good time if you ask me! Once you’re out of college there aren’t really as many acceptable times or places for that #YOLO attitude, sadly.  Mardi Gras seems like as good a time as any though.
  5. The history. Okay, so I’m a history buff to the nth power, and I find the history of Mardi Gras/Carnival fascinating. The whole thing dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites before the Romans decided to incorporate the rites into Christianity.  Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) is the last day of being all gluttonous and debauched before the Lenten season of penance and fasting that leads up to Easter. The first American Mardi Gras took place in the 17th century thanks to some lovely French explorers and it has been marked by street parties, masked balls, and lavish dinners ever since (except that pesky time when the Spanish took control of New Orleans and abolished it. Silly Spaniards).

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