When you hear the phrase “Mardi Gras,” the first thing that probably comes to mind is “boobs, beads, and booze,” right? You’ve heard all the stories and seen all the movies that portray the infamous debauchery that occurs on Bourbon Street. While some of that may be true, there’s actually another side to Mardi Gras that is seldom ever talked about. What if I told you that, by and large, Mardi Gras is actually a fun, family-friendly celebration?
The true origins of Mardi Gras are rooted in religious celebrations. Every year Mardi Gras season begins on “Twelfth Night,” 12 days after Christmas when it is believed the wise men reached Jesus in the manger, and then it culminates on Mardi Gras day which varies yearly depending upon when Ash Wednesday falls in relation to Easter. Its history is actually quite interesting, and I could write an entire book on the subject, but I’ll spare you all of that and just encourage you to do a little research yourself if interested.
Having grown up in Louisiana, I have a treasure trove of fond memories from attending Mardi Gras parades with family and friends. I can remember, even as a very young child, my mom would wake me up really early in the morning, load me up in the car, and we would head down to New Orleans from Baton Rouge to claim our spot on the “neutral ground” (otherwise known as a median) and wait hours for the parade to begin. Mardi Gras parades are truly magical – they have a way of bringing together an entire community of people from all walks of life to share good times, good food, incredible music, and so much joy. While the parades themselves are a sight to behold, what truly stands out in my mind after all these years is just the way everyone comes together, puts differences aside, and enjoys life – dancing, laughing, and singing together all while yelling “throw me something, mister!!” as the parade rolls by.
So, if you ever find yourself and your family in New Orleans or surrounding cities during the Mardi Gras season, try to find a parade schedule and bring the whole family to experience it! There are parades rolling just about every weekend from mid-January through Mardi Gras day. And, although most parades truly are family-friendly, you might actually want to avoid Bourbon Street with the kids in-tow because, well, boobs, beads, & booze are pretty prevalent there!
Sidenote: I recognize the fact that Mardi Gras isn’t really much of a “thing” here in Dayton, but I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to find Dorothy Lane selling king cakes when we first moved up here! Although there might not be any parades to attend, you better believe this girl finds some kind of way to celebrate!