Dating back to the Medieval time period, Mardi Gras is a Christian holiday also known as Carnival. The earliest records we have of Mardi Gras in the United States date back to around 1700. In 1718, New Orleans was established. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was openly celebrated, though not the way we know it is today with parades and such. At that time, celebrations were more like fancy balls. They didn’t include Carnival activities until closer to the end of the 1700s. It wasn’t until the 1800s that the first Mardi Gras parades began and in 1875, Mardi Gras became an official holiday in Louisiana.
Mardi Gras Facts:
- “Mardi” is French for Tuesday, and “gras” means fat. The phrase, when translated, means Fat Tuesday.
- Mardi Gras is now synonymous with Carnival.
- King cakes are popular on Mardi Gras. Traditionally, a plastic baby is baked into a cake and the person who gets the slice with the cake will have a year of good luck and prosperity.
- Many people (adults and children alike) wear beaded necklaces on Mardi Gras.
- The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are gold, purple, and green. These colors represent power (gold), justice (purple), and faith (green).
- Mardi Gras is celebrated on the last day of Carnival which is also the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday begins the Christian season of Lent.
- Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday.
Mardi Gras Books
Use some of these books to round out your studies on Mardi Gras for younger children:
Mardi Gras Activities
For younger kids
- Make a Mardi Gras sensory bin! Using shredded paper (in gold, yellow, and purple of course) fill a shallow bin with paper shreds and confetti. Toss in some foam shapes or alphabet letters and your sensory bin is ready to go!
- Create some Mardi Gras playdough. Using a homemade playdough recipe, make playdough in yellow, green, and purple. Then, hand your little ones some Mardi Gras beads to press into the playdough to create interesting textures and designs.
- Master Mardi Gras vocabulary and spelling with this Mardi Gras Spelling List with lots of games and fun activities.
For older kids
- Whip up some Mardi Gras slime! Just make your basic glitter glue slime and add in some miniature plastic babies or Mardi Gras beads!
- Invite your kids to make Mardi Gras masks. Buy some plain white cat-eye masks appropriate for Mardi Gras or Carnival (usually in the party section by the masquerade props). Then, give your kids some tempera paint and yellow, purple, and green feathers – along with some glue – and let them go to town on their masks. To hold masks to the face, adhere a 1/8th-inch dowel rod to one side of the mask.