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History of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Celebration Supplies

Mardi Gras is celebrated on a Tuesday and is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. The celebration of Mardi Gras - the day before the Christian season of Lent begins in late winter - is a big occasion in New Orleans, Louisiana, where huge parades and wild revels take place. Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday", the last day of hearty eating before the penitential season of Lent.

As its French name implies, the tradition goes back to the city's settlement by French immigrants. Early explorers celebrated it on the banks of the Mississippi River. Throughout the years, Orleanians have added to the celebration by establishing krewes (organizations) which host parades and balls.

The official colors for Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. These colors where chosen in 1872 by the King of Carnival, Rex. He chose these colors to stand for the following:

Purple - represents justice
Green - stands for faith
Gold - stands for power

The Mardi Gras season begins with Three Kings Day. Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6th, twelve days after Christmas. It is often viewed as the last day of the Christmas season (the end of the 12 days of Christmas). Also known as The Epiphany, Three Kings Day (Día de los Reyes) is a Christian celebration that commemorates the Biblical story of the three kings who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ child. According to the Biblical story, the Three Kings - named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar - presented the Baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Traditionally in Mexico, Three Kings Day was the gift-giving time, rather than Christmas day. Just as it is common for children to leave cookies for Santa in the U.S., in some regions of Mexico, it was customary for children to leave their shoes out on the night of January 5, often filling them with hay for the camels, in hopes that the Three Kings would be generous. Mexican children would awake on January 6 to find their shoes filled with toys and gifts.

Also traditional in Mexico is for families to gather together and share the Rosca de Reyes (King's Cake). The Rosca de Reyes is a crown-shaped sweet bread decorated with pieces of orange and lime. It may be filled with nuts, figs, and cherries. Hot chocolate is traditionally served with the Rosca de Reyes.


One of the most popular customs is still the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings..."A King's Cake". Tradition has now evolved through time to obligate the person who receives the doll (inside every King Cake) to continue the festivities by hosting another king cake party.

The King Cake is made with a rich Danish dough, baked and covered with a poured sugar topping and decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras-colored sugars. The end result is a delicious and festive cake in traditional Rex colors: Purple, Green and Gold.
You can purchase a King Cake here:
King Cake

Here is a recipe to make one yourself!
Recipe thanks to:

King Cake Recipe

1/2 c Water; warm (105-115 degrees)
2 Pkgs active dry yeast
3 1/2 c Flour (to 4 1/2 cups)
1/2 c Sugar
1/2 ts Nutmeg; freshly grated
2 ts Salt
1 ts Lemon rind; grated
1/2 c Water; lukewarm
3 Eggs
4 Egg yolks
1/2 c Butter; softened
1 Egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp milk
1 Dime, dried bean or miniature doll
3 c Confectioners sugar
1/4 c Lemon juice; strained
3 ts Water or more
Green, purple and yellow sugars*

Soften yeast in water. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, salt and lemon rind in a large bowl. Make a well in center. Add yeast mixture, milk, eggs, egg yolks and combine completely. Beat in butter until dough forms a ball. Place on floured board; incorporate more flour if necessary. Knead until smooth and elastic. Stir dough in well buttered bowl and turn so all surfaces are buttered. Cover with a towel and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Brush baking sheet in butter. Punch down on lightly floured board. Knead, then pat into a 14" cylinder. Place on baking sheet and form into a large ring. Press trinket into dough so that it is hidden. Set aside, covered with a towel, to rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Before baking, brush top with the egg milk mixture. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Beat icing ingredients until smooth. Spread over top of cake, letting drip down sides. Immediately sprinkle sugars over icing in 2" wide strips of purple, green and yellow stripes.
*Colored sugar is sold in baking supply houses. If you can't find it, tint icing with food coloring.

Have a Great MARDI GRAS Celebration!

Mardi Gras Celebration Supplies