But Mardi Gras deserves attention all on its own.
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day before the Christian season of Lent begins. In Lent, Christians make sacrifices, fast, pray, and try to prepare for Easter, the holiest time in their religious calendar.
So Mardi Gras is the last hurrah before the solemnity of the Lenten season. And some people really do make the most of it.
In Brazil, Carnivale has a world-famous reputation as an all-out extravaganza.
In the United States, New Orleans pretty much holds the title for most festive Mardi Gras destination.
The celebrations can get wild – but there are some family-friendly traditions that anyone can adopt.
One of the most fun is King Cake. King Cake is not only eaten during Mardi Gras, but it is also a popular food during the Christmas holidays in places such as France, Belgium, Portugal, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and Spain.
Inside the cake is a tiny figure of a baby, meant to be the baby Jesus. Whoever finds the figure in his or her piece of cake earns the right to buy next year’s King Cake (I like this tradition!).
In addition to King Cake, parades are a common activity at Mardi Gras festivities. You can organize a mini-parade with your family either inside or outside (depending on how frigid it is where you live). Dress up in masks and pile on every piece of funny clothing, jewelry, or decoration you can find.
If you’ve got beads, flaunt them! Mardi Gras beads are traditionally distributed during parades. These plastic beads, usually found in purple, green, and gold, are fun treasures for kids to collect. You can give out beads according to your own idea of a good time. Encourage your children to compliment each other or do nice things for other friends or family members in order to earn the beads. You can keep the fun going long after Mardi Gras.