Mardi Gras, literally meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French, falls on Tuesday, February 16th this year. It is a day of celebration, a day of eating rich, fatty foods before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. While there won’t be a big parade in New Orleans this year, there are many fun ways to celebrate Mardi Gras at home.
Books to Read About Mardi Gras:
- Mardi Gras ABCs by Connie P. Toledano. A sweet, rhyming introductory book about Mardi Gras, perfect for young readers.
- Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras by James Rice. Gaston the green-nosed alligator is ready to celebrate Mardi Gras, and he wants to share all the fun!
- The Runaway Beignet by Connie Collins Morgan. You may be familiar with the Gingerbread Boy running away from the baker, do you know the story of the Runaway Beignet? As the Beignet runs away, he passes by famous sights in New Orleans.
- Dinosaur Mardi Gras by Dianne De Las Casas. Dinosaur fans will enjoy reading about the way these dinosaur friends celebrate Mardi Gras. “From singing tunes and tossing beads, these big beasts sure know how to party.”
- Beignets for Breakfast by Jeanette Weiland. In this rhyming book, a parent and child discuss share what it means to live in New Orleans. Readers will enjoy seeing and learning about historic sites and popular traditions.
- Mardi Gras (Bullfrog Books: Festivals) by Rebecca Pettiford. If you’re looking for a nonfiction book that explains Mardi Gras and shows and tells how it is celebrated, this is the book for you. You’ll find full-color photos throughout.
- All these books and more can be found in our Amazon Shop.
Where to get New Orleans Cuisine in Los Angeles
The Gumbo Pot
The Original Farmers Market
6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Bring a taste of New Orleans home to you by visiting The Gumbo Pot in The Original Farmers Market. Their large menu includes beignets (you can get them dried with chocolate), po’boys, gumbo, and much more.
Mardi Gras Tuesday
14543 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Enjoy a “Taste of New Orleans” at Mardi Gras Tuesday, a popular Sherman Oaks spot. Their large lunch and dinner menus offer foods you’ve come to associate with New Orleans including po’boys, seafood, jambalaya, and more. Both delivery and pick-up options are available.
Little Jewel of New Orleans Grocery and Deli
207 Ord St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
You may feel as if you’re in New Orleans when you step into Little Jewel of New Orleans Grocery and Deli. Their market offers “harder to find” items from Louisiana and the South in general. Their menu includes traditional favorites such as beignets, po’boys, seafood, daily specials, and more. You can order online.
King Cake or King’s Cake
King’s Cakes are a traditional Mardi Gras sweet treat. Our friends at Northshore Parent in New Orleans have a great recipe for Traditional King Cake if you want to make your own.
Craft Ideas for Mardi Gras
- Purple, Green, and Gold Patterns. The colors associated with Mardi Gras are purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. Have kids create patterns with these three colors. Identifying patterns is a huge early math skill. Can kids create an ABC pattern (purple, green, gold)? How about an AABBCC pattern (purple, purple, green, green, gold, gold)? Kids can color these patterns, paint these patterns, draw them with sidewalk chalk outside.
- Create Masks. Order a package of blank Mardi Gras paper masks and get creative. Add paint, glitter, feathers and more to transform these plain masks into truly unique masks.
- Make Mardi Gras Necklaces. If your kids are old enough, have them string together beads to create their own Mardi Gras necklaces. This craft will keep little fingers busy for a while.
- Decorate a Mardi Gras Tree, like this amazing one from our friends at Indy with Kids. If you’re sad to take down the Xmas tree, this is a way to keep the pine-scented goodness around longer!
- Try this adorable Mardi Gras Handprint Craft from Northshore Parent. It’s from our pals in New Orleans, so you know they’re experts!
- You can find tons of craft supplies in our Amazon Shop!
Virtual Events to Celebrate Mardi Gras
Kids can participate in an online cooking class offered by BLVD Kitchen. On Saturday, February 20th at 10:00 am, kids can join in to learn how to make “Fat Tuesday Pancakes or Hoecakes.” The class is 30 minutes long and is designed for children ages 5 and up; though adult assistance is strongly suggested for students 8 years old and younger. Registration is $20 and is available online.
While you may not be able to plan a trip to visit the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Louisiana, you can certainly check out its website. Take a look at the gallery photos of the elaborate costumes that are a part of the Museum’s collection.
Mardi Gras For All Y’All is a special virtual event happening over three nights. The event, hosted by Hoda Kotb, will feature the sights and sounds of Carnival, including “celebrity interviews, musical performances and Carnival features narrating the history of the celebration and New Orleans’ unique culture.” The Virtual event begins on Friday, February 12th and continues through Sunday, February 13th. The video broadcast will be repeated on Mardi Gras, February 16th. Check the website for details.
Families are invited to participate in an “interactive activity series exploring the music, movement, and art that brings Carnival to Life.” The workshop is designed for children ages 7 and older. The art classes are offered on Tuesdays, January 12th through February 9th from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm CT. Each week has a different theme including dance (February 2nd) and costumes and masks (February 9th). Registration is available online and is pay-what-you-can. All donations will go toward KID smART arts education programs in New Orleans public schools.
Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).