Friday, February 13, 2009

Laissez les bon Temps Rouler!!!

Parade season baby! Wooo-hoo! Our first local parade kicks off tonight and we have an invite to a prime viewing location WITH private bathroom access. That is key to successful parade viewing during Mardi Gras season. We actually have secured parade route viewing areas for all major parades in our area....SA-WEET!! Lemmie throw down a little Mardi Gras history/info. for all of you not in the know, ha ha ha.
But first, pics from last year's parades! Here's the whole fam:
Yep, I was brunette that year, lol.
The girls got their first taste of cotton candy while waiting for the parade to roll.
Doing a lil' bead dance!Here is a lovely one for the family album. Here, our friend is corrupting our little Twin B with a fake plastic stogie one of the revelers threw...nice.Ok, the title of this post, what does it mean and how do you say it?! Say it with me now: lay-zay lay bawn tawn roo-lay. Right! Ya got it! Laissez les bon temp rouler, or, Let the Good Times Roll!
Mardi Gras literally translates to "fat Tuesday" in French. It's the day before Ash Wednesday, or the beginning of the Lenten season. Basically it's your last day to gorge and live in excess before the Easter season. Carnival season begins on Jan. 6th, the Epiphany, or Twelfth Night (also known as Little Christmas). Twelfth Night parties are often held as a signal to the start of the season. King cake is generally served.

What is King cake you ask? It's a brioche-style cake (sweetened yeast bread), usually rolled and shaped into an oval with cinnamon-sugar inside. It is topped with white icing, purple (symbolizing justice), gold (symbolizing power), and green (symbolizing wealth) sprinkles. Traditionally there is a small plastic baby (symbolizing baby Jesus) placed inside. Tradition dictates that whomever finds the baby inside their piece of cake must bring the King Cake to the next party.

These days, you can find King Cakes filled with just about every flavor you could imagine (custards, cream cheese, fruits, chocolate). The Dude hates filled King Cakes. He's a purist and demands his cakes contain ONLY cinnamon and sugar.

There is quite a bit of debate as to when and where Mardi Gras was brought to North America. Some say it was first celebrated in Mobile, AL while others insist it was New Orleans. Some stories suggest it was as early as 1699 in Louisiana, others say 1703 in Mobile. Regardless, it's a bigger deal (and more famous) for it's New Orleans roots.

We don't do Mardi Gras in New Orleans. That is just too touristy and crazy (go ahead, find a place to pee, I dare you). It's still big where we are (50-ish miles south of New Orleans) but there are no chicks flashing for beads or anything of that nature. More family friendly.

So what happens at a parade? Well, there is lots of eating and drinking involved. People start holding their parade route spots days in advance. Campers line the parade routes. While the parade may last only an hour or so, the cooking/parties before hand can last much longer. When the parade finally rolls by, people start going nuts. Grown adults will knock a child over trying to get their hands on some "throws." Throws (what the revelers throw from the floats) can range from beads to toys to underwear. It can get a little ridiculous how some people act.

Who rides on the floats? Each parade is for a specific Krewe. A Krewe is nothing more than a social club/organization. They tend to be a tad exclusive. You can't just join. You must be invited and there are usually a host of other restrictions. There is a royal court for each Krewe, with a King and Queen, Dukes, Ladies/maids, Pages, etc. The Dude's sister was a Maid one year. She wore this ridiculously large dress (she couldn't walk without assistance and needed help in the bathroom) and rode in the parade on a fancy convertible. Those that ride on the actual floats are usually masked and wearing costumes.

Krewe of Bacchus, rolling down St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans.

It's a fun time. If you ever get the chance, try to make it down this way for Mardi Gras season. It's an experience you'll not soon forget.


Penz said...

sounds like a very fun time. Enjoy it. :)

Jenny Wegner said...

That sounds so fun! Thanks for the history lesson - I love to hear about the roots of traditions and phrases. I'm working on memorizing "let the good times roll" in french. :)

Lee said...

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So just email me at and I can start working on it with you!

Veggie Mom said...

I've always wanted to be down in NOLA for Mardi Gras...maybe someday, oui? But I've got a sweet holiday surprise for you...You're a Winner in my Great Pop'rs Giveaway! Please cruise on over to my place to get the details, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Sturgmom said...

Looks like a ton of fun!! I love a good parade and party!