“Laissez les bon temps rouler.” If you live on the Gulf Coast, you’ll hear that phrase time and time again during the months of January and February. The phrase translates to let the good times roll, which might as well be Webster’s definition for Mardi Gras. We may not be celebrating as usual but we will absolutely honor the day with Gumbo YaYa, Dirty Rice and a King Cake; we can’t till next year!
There’s more to Mardi Gras than the glitz and glamor, it’s also a holiday rich with history and religion.
It is widely argued where the first Mardi Gras celebrations were held. Depending on who you ask, some say the festivities were held in New Orleans, LA while others swear by Mobile, AL.
Some historians say the first Mardi Gras was founded by Roman Catholics from France in 1702. The first celebrations took place in Mobile in 1704 and were led by Joe Cain, the namesake of Joe Cain Day, who is still celebrated today on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday.
Other history buffs claim a french explorer landed near New Orleans, LA and coined the settlement Point du Mardi Gras, hence the name Mardi Gras.
Participants of Carnival Season tend to indulge in rich foods and drink during this holiday. Moon Pies, gumbo, and King Cake are just a few of the foods you’re sure to spot during the festivities. It’s the most popular time of year for Chef David Pan’s Gumbo Ya-Ya and we can hardly keep this Cajun staple on the shelves at The Pantry!
Each year, the celebrations come to an end on Fat Tuesday, February 16th. Mardi Gras actually means “Fat Tuesday” in French. The day is also known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. The day historically honors the last day before Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holiday that marks the beginning of Lent. Traditionally, Fat Tuesday is the last day to gorge and indulge before beginning Lent’s 40 days leading up to Easter.
Mardi Gras isn’t just a celebration of feasts, costumed balls, and parades. It’s also a special time for surrounding communities to congregate and honor rich heritage with good times.
After all, “Laissez les bon temps rouler.”