How to Celebrate Mardi Gras with the Family

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and is a day of feasting on rich foods before the Christian period of Lent—which usually involves fasting or giving up a favorite food—begins the next day on Ash Wednesday. Even if you aren’t religious, many people enjoy Mardi Gras festivities and traditions as a celebration of life. While most Mardi Gras festivals in San Diego are held in the evening and are not particularly family-friendly, there are plenty of ways to celebrate with your children at home!

Bake and Eat a King Cake Together

Feasting on a king cake is a Mardi Gras tradition! A king cake is made from brioche, with flavors of cinnamon and vanilla throughout. The cake is covered in icing and sprinkled with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple and green. The most important part of a king cake is that a little plastic baby is baked inside, and whoever finds it in their slice has to make the cake or host the party next year. Create a new tradition by changing the rules to something that works for your family, like whoever finds the baby gets to choose what to watch on the next family movie night!

(If you could use tips on how to get your kids interested in baking and cooking with you, check out our article How To Get Your Kids Involved in Meal Prep.)

Give Out Beaded Necklaces

The tradition of handing out beads started around 1920, when the people riding on parade floats began throwing out beads to the parade watchers as a way to get them excited and increase the energy of the crowd. As for the Mardi Gras colors, purple symbolizes justice, green means faith, and gold represents power. Head to your local craft store and pick up some purple, green, and gold beads along with some string or yarn, and have your kids make their own beaded necklaces or garlands to give to each other or friends.

Throw Your Own Parade

Let the kids put together costumes from what you have on hand, or craft something new. Make your own masquerade masks by tracing a shape on thin cardboard or construction paper, cut it out, make sure the eye holes are the right size, then let the kids decorate them with crayons, stickers, sequins, and beads. Once the costumes are ready, throw a parade in your living room, or get your neighbors involved for a fun family-friendly mardi gras on your very own block!

For more tips on parenting in San Diego, visit our website at

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