Carnival traditions

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 28, 2014

It seems Fat Tuesday is creeping up on us again.

Did you know only a handful of cities actually celebrate Mardi Gras? Considering the importance of the holiday in our area, I was surprised to learn many places in the mid-west and across the country know nothing more of the festival than it’s name on the calendar.

Actually, Mardi Gras is most accepted in coastal regions and generally in cities with heavy French and Spanish heritage.

New Orleans, Mobile, and St. Louis have the most notable reputations for how seriously they take the Carnival traditions. Even though Mardi Gras season technically begins Jan. 6 (12 days after Christmas), our area typically starts the real festivities by the second week of February.

If you’re like many people who didn’t notice the time of year until you saw the colorful displays on your last trip to the grocery store, fret not! Even if you haven’t gotten into the festive spirit this year, there are still four more days to celebrate and enjoy 2014’s Carnival season.

The first part you can do on your own, grab your family and some great music and try a weekend picnic.

Next, you’ll want to hit at least one parade.

Although it may be too late if you’d hoped to celebrate locally (Krewe of the Pearl’s Annual Parade in Picayune had a great turnout on the 24th), there are still a few parades going on in Slidell this weekend. Krewe of Selene is tonight at 6:30 p.m. and Krewe of Salt Bayou is Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Both parades will offer loads of family-friendly fun.

Then, to top off your celebration, make sure to stop by a local pastry shop for a traditional slice of king cake. That is, unless you’re feeling rebellious to traditions (or just like the idea of starting new ones), then you may want to pick up a half gallon of Blue Bell’s “Mardi Gras King Cake” ice cream — my personal favorite.