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March 4, 2019

Mardi Gras and the King Cake Tradition

When we think of Mardi Gras, the first thing that pops in your mind is New Orleans with its large parades, its beads, and a grand time had by all. But there’s much more to the celebration than a wild time. In fact, Mardi Gras is a time to celebrate the coming of the spring the best way we know how — through a feast!

The History of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras’ origin is up for debate, but the holiday may have originated as an ancient pagan ritual celebrating spring and fertility. Popular in countries with large Roman Catholic populations, the celebration begins on the Epiphany, a Christian holiday that is celebrated on January 6 and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” since the celebrations include many binging on rich, fatty foods in anticipation for fasting during the Lenten season.

The first American Mardi Gras took place in 1699 when French explorers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville celebrated Fat Tuesday after landing about 60 miles from the spot that is now New Orleans. Although Mobile, Alabama claims to have the oldest annual Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S., New Orleans is the place to be, where more than a million visitors participate in the festivities each year.

One of the features of the Mardi Gras is the beads. These beads are thrown during the parade and are in the official colors of Mardi Gras — gold, purple, and green, to represent the Christian symbolism of power, justice, and faith. These beads are removed on Ash Wednesday and packed away until the next year.

The King Cake: A Lucky Tradition

The centerpiece of any grand Mardi Gras celebration is, of course, the food. Such southern Cajun classics as shrimp and grits, dirty rice, and crawfish are on many Mardi Gras menus, including Grico’s! But the one dish that stands out above the rest is the King Cake.

The King Cake is a type of cake that is closely associated with Mardi Gras celebrations across the world and is meant to honor the three kings who visited the Christ Child. The purpose of the cake is to bring families and communities together to celebrate the season.

What makes the King Cake stand out is the trinket hidden inside the cake. In ancient times, the secret item was usually a bean. However, the tradition changed in the 1800s to a small, porcelain or plastic baby, meant to symbolize baby Jesus. The lucky person who finds the baby in their slice is responsible for purchasing next year’s cake, throwing the next Mardi Gras party or may even be called “king” or “queen” for the rest of the party.

The Feast Before the Famine Dinner

On Tuesday, we invite everyone to join us for our Mardi Gras celebration with our Feast Before the Famine Dinner. The menu consists of classic New Orleans cuisine, including the famous King Cake. And the lucky person who finds the baby in their slice of cake will receive a $25 gift card from Grico’s!

Cost of the dinner is $35 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required for this event. For more information or to reserve your table, call us at (570) 654-9120 today!

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