Mardi Gras Madness (How to Throw a Mardi Gras Party--Catholic edition)

Before Ash Wednesday, comes Fat Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras). We are an Easter people, people, even in the face of Lent. And before this fast, we feast.

So, be a good Catholic and go get your ashes, and observe the fast, and fire up your voluntary Lenten disciplines.

But first, have some fun on Fat Tuesday! (Nice fun, I mean. I’ve never been to New Orleans or Rio for Mardi Gras, but I’m relatively certain they and I have rather different things in mind for what constitutes a fun Mardi Gras.)

Mardi Gras Breakfast

Breakfast starts with our own version of a King Cake. I usually make my grandmother-in-law (is that a thing?)’s coffee cake recipe, but anything cake-y will do. The important part is that we hide a ring inside (just like we do for Epiphany).

Here's a video where we make a king cake and talk about Epiphany (not Mardi Gras, but still festive!) from our academy-award nominated videographer:
The King Cake-baking begins at 0:56!

Catholic All Year Liturgical Living Box subscribers--don't forget to stick that tiny baby Jesus in your cake!

Whoever gets the baby is King or Queen of Mardi Gras. That person (kid OR grownup) gets to decide all the little things of the day. We make Mardi Gras masks to wear at dinner, then pretend we can’t recognize each other.

A Mardi Gras Pre-Party Activity

During naptime, the kids will get to make their masks. There are a ton of easy printable masks available online . . . and here are some Sophia and Grace from the CAY Team designed for you!

All very fun for kids to wear, and pretty easy for moms to manage. Print, color, cut. You can attach some elastic, or glue a popsicle stick to the bottom, or just tape it to junior’s forehead. He’s not going to want to wear it for that long anyway, right?

If you'd like activities, recipes, and decor to celebrate three feasts this March, for a limited time buy the March Liturgical Living Box!

Mardi Gras Dinner & A Hoodoo Movie

For dinner, I make Shrimp Etoufee from a recipe given to me by an actual person from Louisiana. We eat it with cornbread while listening to French music.

But all of that is just a prelude to after dinner, when we try to eat up all the treats in the house. First, I separate out hard candy and we donate that to the troops. Then, we have a go at the rest of the leftover candy from Halloween and Christmas, the frozen cake scraps and ice cream from the five family birthdays we have in fall and winter, the various open bags of cookies, all of it. The kids like to make crazy ice cream sundae concoctions, the details of which I will not share. Because they’re gross.

Then (hopefully) before we’re all sick, whatever we don’t eat gets fed to the chickens or tossed.

Finally, we watch The Princess and the Frog.

You may have heard people say that The Princess and the Frog is full of voodoo and black magic and so you shouldn’t let your kids see it. Well, it is. But, you can. Or I do anyway. I like that there are appropriate consequences for the character who deals in black magic.

The Shadow Man gets dragged into hell by demons. So . . . make note of that, children.

The two main characters show us that virtue is in the middle between overwork and laziness. They both learn temperance. And my favorite bit is easily overlooked.

In this movie, marriage is a real thing that makes you fundamentally different. The details aren’t easily explained. But, once they are married (as frogs) and kiss the spell is broken. Because once she marries the prince, she becomes a princess. She is a different person, so now the magic works. I like that.

THEN they get married in a church, because swamp weddings don’t count. For frogs yes, but not for people.

Problematic: The character of Mama Odie is a positive portrayal of the use of ‘hoodoo’ magic. She tries to do ‘good’ with her magic and doesn’t appear to be appealing to the dark side the way that the Shadow Man does. But, obviously, this isn’t behavior we want to encourage, so it’s worth pausing the DVD and mentioning that prayer and personal effort are the way to go if something in your life needs changing. Even if it’s REALLY important, like that you’ve been turned into a frog.

(Pausing and discussing enables us to watch movies as a family that we would not be comfortable presenting to the kids without guidance. More on our philosophy on screens here.)

It’s also scary in parts. I think it is empowering to kids to be exposed to (appropriate) scary stories and movies. But if you have a sensitive child, perhaps it’s not for you. We are going to screen it for the whole family next week, including the three-year-old.

So, that’s what we’re doing. If you’re planning to do Lent, why not do Fat Tuesday too?

Laissez les bons temps rouler (Lazay Lay Bon Tom Roulay)
Let the good times roll!