The ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia honoring the god Lupercus is not only credited for being the origin of Valentine's day, but of Mardi Gras as well. The Romans celebrated Lupercalia in ways that are now associated with Mardi Gras: feasting and drinking and enjoyment of the "pleasures of the flesh". Like most of the ancient Roman and Greek festivals, Lupercalia was adopted and adapted by the Church as a way of converting pagans to Christianity. It thus morphed into a last "fling" before the beginning of the Lenten period. Lent refers to the 40 days of penitence and purification celebrated between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. During Lent, the religiously faithful refrain from a number of indulgences of the "flesh", including eating meat.
I always make a simple Kingcake using a Krusteaz Crumb Cake mix and a bundt cake pan. I frost it with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle yellow, green and purple colored sugars on top. I hide a baby inside the cake and whoever finds the baby gets to be King and lead the rest of us in a parade around the house. We made floats by wrapping green tissue paper around shoe boxes and decorating them with doubloons, beads and confetti. Each year the boys choose a character to dance on the top of their float. One year it was the Wiggles, lately it's been Lego guys. We decorate masks and wear lots of colorful beads and parade around to Mardi Gras music. For dinner I usually make Gumbo and read books about the holiday while we eat. This is one of my children's favorite holidays!
- Mardi Gras (Best Holiday Books) by Dianne M. MacMillan
- Mimi's First Mardi Gras by Alice Couville
- Mardi Gras in New Orleans: An Alphabet Book by Karen Jansen