"Laissez les bon temps rouler!" So goes the traditional Mardi Gras cry in New Orleans to "let the good times roll!" Pre-Lenten celebrations were brought to Louisiana territory in the 18th century from French Catholic traditions. Mardi Gras parades and masked balls have grown into a world famous festival with revelry, debauchery and fine food.
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the fasting period of Lent. Parades and balls start on the weekend before, but Mardi Gras season officially runs from January 6, or Twelfth Night, to Mardi Gras Day.
Favorite Mardi Gras Foods
Fried and fatty foods are popular before the fasting of Lent. Gumbo and jambalaya are favorite Mardi Gras foods too and are made in big portions for family and friends.
Mardi Gras king cakes are a traditional wreath-shaped sweetbread with brightly colored sugar icing. A little plastic baby is baked inside the cake. Whoever gets the piece with the baby will have good luck for the next year. They also inherit the responsibility of baking the king cake for the next year's celebration.