Bonjour, mes amis! I grew up in Louisiana learning French, celebrating Mardi Gras before Lent, eating king cake, and going to parades to catch beads. In recent years, Mardi Gras seems to have spread west, and more people celebrate it here in the DFW area. With that in mind, I thought you’d enjoy some fun ways to spend Mardi Gras at home with your kiddos.
A Little History
First, why do we celebrate Mardi Gras? What is it? I think it’s important to share the history behind Mardi Gras with your kids, to give the holiday a little context.
“Mardi Gras” is a French term that literally translates to, “Fat Tuesday.” It’s the day before Ash Wednesday in the Catholic Lenten calendar. Historically, everyone in France prepared for Lent by using up all the fats in the home, so they could fast and abstain from rich foods during the next 40 years.
The celebration came to America when early French explorers landed near present-day New Orleans, Louisiana. Mardi Gras was marked by street parties, masked balls, and lavish dinners — traditions that continue to this day.
Make Homemade Masks
To celebrate Mardi Gras with your children at home, show them how to make festive masks out of paper plates or card stock, popsicle sticks, glitter glue, and anything else colorful or sparkly (like feathers or puff balls).
Create a mask by simply cutting two eyes from your paper material, and maybe a hole for the nose and mouth if that’s the style you’re going for. Then let the kids go to town with their creativity. The gaudier the better! Glue or tape a popsicle stick for a handle, or thread some elastic through the corners to wear the mask instead of holding it.
>> RELATED READ :: 8 Simple Crafts that Encourage Fine & Gross Motor Skills <<
Parade Around the House
Once everyone has made a mask, have the kiddos dance around the living room sporting their masks in a parade! Parents can clap or toss them the beads to wear. You can easily find plastic beads at Wal-Mart or your local dollar store.
Parading around at home is a safe way to celebrate this joyful event. Spotify and Apple Music have ready-made playlists with some festive music to make the experience feel more authentic!
When you think of Mardi Gras, you probably think of New Orleans and then immediately think of jazz. However, jazz music is not the main genre of music for this celebratory time. You usually hear second-line music at Mardi Gras parades.
This music is comprised of brass instruments playing upbeat melodies. Hired musicians create the first line of the parade, while spectators are encouraged to dance and strut behind, making up the “second line.” So, strut your stuff with the kiddos and make up your own second line!
>> RELATED READ :: Boost Your Playlist (and Bond with Your Kids) with These 20 Songs <<
Dine on a Lavish Dinner
Fun for Grown-Ups
Let’s be honest: Sometimes you need to spice things up with your partner after having kids. What better time than Mardi Gras to shake things up in the bedroom?!
After your kiddos are in bed, parade around your bedroom in a Mardi Gras mask. Tell your partner to “throw me something!” and earn some beads. I mean, who says you have to reserve your wild side for Bourbon Street?
I hope you find these ideas fun and let the good times roll in the safety of your own home this Mardi Gras.