When you think of Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” you may picture wild revelry in New Orleans, complete with beads, costumes and masks. If you leave out the wild revelry part, you can enjoy some festivities with your family. Observed the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras is considered a time to let your hair down and eat sweets one more time before the 40-day period of abstinence that is commonly adhered to by Catholics and some others. Here are a few ideas to kick-start your festivities:
* Serve up a big breakfast, preferably something sweet. After all, it’s called “Fat Tuesday” for a reason! Some ideas might include pancakes with sliced fruit and maple syrup, crepes, or thick Belgian waffles.
* Hand out Mardi Gras beads for the kids to add to their school outfits. The traditional Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold, so try to find one of each for each child. Encourage them to wear those colors in their clothing for the day.
* Let the kids put on a parade. Gather the neighborhood kids for a Mardi Gras parade! Give them boxes, paint, markers and other decorative materials, and have them make “floats.” Have them parade around, in costume if desired, with noisemakers and beads. This is probably a good outdoor activity, if it’s warm enough where you live.
* Have an after-school craft waiting: give them the materials to make Mardi Gras masks! Help them cut out shapes that will cover their eyes, and cut out holes for them to see through. Give them glitter, sequins, feathers and other decorations to glue on. When dry, have them tape the masks to a straw or skewer, and they can hold the masks in front of their faces.
* Have a festive dinner of jambalaya, complete with Cajun music playing in the background. If your kids won’t eat that, try chunks of Cajun chicken, rice and vegetables.
* If your religious beliefs suggest that you give something up for Lent, talk about something that each family member might abstain from. Possibilities include dessert, chocolate, or television. One year, I gave up coffee. (If you go this route, do so gradually; otherwise, the caffeine-withdrawal headaches could definitely tempt you to give up long before 40 days pass!)
* Serve a “king cake” for dessert. Bake a cake with a small (unmeltable!) toy or a slice of fruit inside. The person who finds the addition gets a prize. Be sure to warn the kids first, and watch them carefully if the object is small enough to be swallowed or choked on!
With just a bit of planning, you can use what you have around the house to put on a memorable and fun Mardi Gras celebration for your family. They will look back during the years to come, and remember these festive times.
Do you celebrate Mardi Gras in your family?
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