Family Mardi Gras traditions

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 3, 2017

Growing up, Mardi Gras was always an elusive holiday I never quite understood, despite my mother’s yearly explanations.

Fat Tuesday, as my brothers and I always called it, was something we told our friends about in school and passed around the trinkets our grandmother sent in the mail.

My mother and her mother before her were born and raised Mobilians. Mardi Gras is said to have been officially founded within the U.S. in Mobile, Ala.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Mobile is still one of only a handful of cities that still throw moon pies and flood the streets with beads, candy and doubloons every year.

Mobile’s Mardi Gras parades may be small and quaint compared to the festivities in New Orleans, but the history of the holiday is what makes it special to me.

Having never celebrated a true Mardi Gras in Mobile—until attending college in my familial city—or elsewhere, the concept of standing in the street while people threw things at me wasn’t very appealing.

As I grew older I learned about my great-grandfather and his role in the Mobile community, founding the Mystic Stripers Society and playing his celebrated jazz trumpet around the town. 

But, it wasn’t until I moved to Louisiana in 2007 that I fully grasped what a big deal this holiday was and that is about more than just eating.

From learning to celebrate the sometimes crazy and elaborate Southern culture, Mardi Gras started to grow on me. It helped that my February birthday usually fell within the season.

After years of juggling the upcoming holiday celebrations between Mobile and New Orleans, it’s exciting to celebrate in a new place this year.

While I may still have some reservations about standing in the street to watch decorated floats filled with masked riders drive by, I’m looking forward to seeing how Picayune celebrates this historically French holiday.

About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

email author More by Julia