Allison Fitz is a first year higher education master’s student and Graduate Assistant in First Year Experience. She is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and moved to Louisiana from Los Angeles, CA.
As a new resident of Louisiana and new member of the LSU community one of the first things I was told about, besides Tiger Football, was Mardi Gras. I knew, of course, that New Orleans had plenty of parades to see and beads for the catching, but until moving here I did not know that everyone in this state gets Carnival fever as soon as January hits!
Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday” in French, came about as a Louisiana tradition by way of its French settlers, who were celebrating before the start of the Catholic Lenten season. Records of Mardi Gras celebrations in Louisiana exist back to mid 18th century. Many other countries also have Carnival celebrations, most notably in Brazil, Italy, and Belgium.
Today the traditions continue here in Louisiana. During Carnival season it’s impossible not to see the traditional triad of Mardi Gras colors purple, gold, and green all over the state, and particularly in the icing and sugar covering the king cake. King Cakes, a traditional Mardi Gras treat, are circular yeasted cakes spiced with cinnamon. I prefer the ones filled with cream cheese. For anyone new to Louisiana or to Mardi Gras, king cakes are a must have!
This year I was able to spend some time in New Orleans watching parades roll and catching beads. Parades are organized by krewes who ride the colorful floats and toss throws down to watchers. For those wondering if New Orleans is the only place to see parades, Baton Rouge offers great parades before Fat Tuesday, including Southdowns, Spanish Town, and my personal favorite the Krewe of Mutts dog parade! All are mere miles from LSU’s campus and feature great floats and lots of beads. You can even snag some purple and gold tiger beads if you are lucky! See http://www.visitbatonrouge.com/mardigras/ for more information.
Wishing you a safe and happy Mardi Gras!